What is the pericardium?
The pericardium is a sac that surrounds the heart. Normally, it holds just enough fluid to cushion and lubricate the heart muscle. Disease, infection, or injury can cause fluid to build up in this sac. The pressure from this extra fluid can make it hard for the heart to pump as it should.
Why does a pericardial effusion occur?
Pericardial effusion has a number of causes which includes viral infection, cancer, renal disease, heart failure, hypothyroidism, and after cardiac surgery. A pericardial window is used both to provide a diagnosis and to improve heart function.
What are the reasons for a pericardial window?
- Fluid build-up around the heart (pericardial effusion) that causes heart function to get worse.
- The pericardial window permits a view of biopsy sites. Biopsies, or tissue samples, may be needed when some lung tumors occur. Pleural tumors may be benign or malignant.
What is pericardial window?
A pericardial window can be made with a small incision below the end of the breastbone (sternum) or with a small incision between the ribs on the left side of the chest. An incision is made in the pericardium to drain fluid that has built up around the heart. A tube may be placed to drain extra fluid for a short time after surgery. This helps the heart pump effectively again.
What should I expect?
An intravenous line (IV) will be placed in your arm to give you medicines during the procedure and after. This surgery is performed under general anesthesia.
Pain will be controlled with oral or IV medicines.
You will be asked to walk around the unit several times a day.
Based on the primary disease, patients often go home in two days.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 04/01/2013
Copyright © 04/01/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7033
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