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    Cardiopulmonary Syndromes (PDQ®): Supportive care - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Malignant Pericardial Effusion


    A retrospective comparison of pericardiocentesis with sclerotherapy to open surgical drainage among 60 patients showed similar rates for treatment complications, incidence of recurrent effusion, and survival following treatment in both treatment groups.[40] A retrospective review of 59 patients also found similar success rates, whether patients were managed with surgical subxiphoid pericardial window or by pericardiocentesis with or without sclerosis.[33] Patients who underwent pericardiocentesis followed by pericardial window had the longest survival, with a median of 6 months; however, selection bias toward patients with better performance status undergoing more aggressive surgical techniques may contribute to the reported survival advantage. The surgical procedure group had significantly higher average costs of $4,830 compared with $1,625 for patients managed with pericardiocentesis.[33] Other studies have reported mortality, recurrence, and survival rates for sclerosis that are similar to or slightly lower than those for subxiphoid window or video-assisted thoracoscopy.[40,41];[42][Level of evidence: II][33][Level of evidence: III] Pericardiocentesis with or without sclerotherapy should be considered instead of more invasive procedures in patients with advanced disease or poor functional status.[43]

    Transcutaneous balloon pericardiostomy is another technique that is less invasive than open surgical approaches, which include subxiphoid pericardial windows, thoracotomy with pericardiopleural window formation,[44] and thoracotomy with pericardectomy.

    Video pericardioscopy has a diagnostic sensitivity of 97% for detecting malignant effusions.[45] Pericardioscopy also is useful for drainage of loculated effusions.[46][Level of evidence: II] Video-assisted thoracoscopy is preferable to more invasive surgical management and should be considered for patients requiring repeated pericardiocentesis for control of symptomatic effusions.[43]

    Current Clinical Trials

    Check NCI's list of cancer clinical trials for U.S. supportive and palliative care trials about malignant pericardial effusion that are now accepting participants. The list of trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

    General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


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    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: 8/, 015
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