Pericardiocentesis, also called a pericardial tap, is an invasive procedure in which a needle and catheter remove fluid from the sac around the heart. The fluid is tested for signs of infection, inflammation, presence of blood, and cancer.
Occasionally, pericardiocentesis is performed on an emergency basis to treat a condition called cardiac tamponade, a life-threatening, rapid buildup of fluid around the heart that weakens its pumping ability. The procedure relieves pressure on the heart.
Lynn Swassing was just 48 years old, the mother of two sons in high school
and one daughter in college, when she had a heart attack in 1987. She
underwent quadruple bypass surgery and was hospitalized for nearly six
Every single day, at some point, the hospital had an exercise specialist at
the foot of my bed, she recalls. They told me, if you don't get active, you
won't make it.
No way,was Swassing's first thought. The full-time mom had never been on a
treadmill in her life, and she...
You will be given a mild sedative to relax you, but you will be awake and conscious during the entire procedure.
An IV (intravenous) line is inserted in your hand or arm in case fluids or medications are needed.
The doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb an area on your chest. A needle will be inserted and then a catheter (a thin plastic tube) will be threaded into the pericardial sac around your heart. The doctor may use an X-ray or echocardiography machine to make sure the catheter is positioned correctly. The doctor will drain the fluid that has collected around your heart.
When the fluid has been removed, the catheter may be removed. Sometimes it is left in place for more drainage.
A pericardiocentesis takes about 20 to 60 minutes to perform.