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Heart Disease Health Center

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Pericardial Drainage

How To Prepare continued...

You may not be able to eat or drink for several hours before the test.

Some blood tests, including those to check for anemia and blood-clotting problems, may be done before the test.

Because this is a test involving your heart, you may have to stay overnight in the hospital to be monitored closely. If a drain is inserted during the test, you may have to stay for several days.

Unless the procedure is being done in an emergency, you will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

A diagnostic pericardial drainage is usually done in a cardiac procedure room. If the drainage is being done to relieve pressure on the heart, it may be done in an emergency room or in your hospital room. This procedure is normally performed by a cardiologist, a cardiovascular surgeon, or an emergency medicine doctor.

During the test, your heart is monitored using an electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG). You will have an intravenous (IV) line for any medicine that may need to be given during the test. You may be given a mild sedative to help you relax.

In nonemergency situations, you will lean back at an angle on the bed or table. Your chest will be shaved (if necessary), cleaned with an antiseptic solution, and covered with sterile drapes.

A local anesthetic will be injected to numb the skin and deeper tissues, and then a long thin needle will be carefully inserted just below your breastbone. In some cases the needle is inserted between your ribs on the left side, over your heart. The needle is then slowly advanced through the pericardial sac into the pericardial space. Your doctor may use an echocardiogram or EKG to help guide the needle. Or an X-ray camera may be used to guide the procedure.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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