How It Is Done continued...
The doctor then guides a catheter, which is a thin plastic tube, along the needle into the pericardial space. The fluid drains out through the catheter. Some fluid may be saved and sent to a laboratory for tests. At different times during the procedure, you may be asked to hold your breath. You must remain very still throughout the procedure.
This procedure takes 10 to 20 minutes. Sometimes your doctor will let the fluid drain through the catheter for a few hours.
After some or all of the fluid is drained, the catheter is removed, and pressure is applied to the injection site for several minutes to stop any bleeding.
After the test, you will have a chest X-ray to check for possible puncture and collapse of your left lung. You will be closely observed for several hours, with frequent checks of your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate.
How It Feels
You will feel a brief stinging pain when the local anesthetic is injected. When the needle is inserted into the pericardial sac, you may feel pressure. You might feel pain in another location, such as your shoulder. You may also have some irregular or "skipped" heartbeats during the test.
Tell your doctor right away if you have severe chest pain or feel short of breath during or after the procedure.