Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Pericardial Drainage

Risks continued...

If the needle touches your heart, you may have an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), but the irregularity usually stops when the needle is removed. In rare cases, this type of arrhythmia can cause death. There is also a slight chance of spreading infection from the skin to the pericardial space when the needle is inserted.

After the test

After leaving the hospital, call911or other emergency services immediately if you have:

Call your doctor immediately if you:

  • Vomit blood.
  • Have a fever.
  • Are short of breath.
  • Feel dizzy.
  • Have lower-than-normal blood pressure.

Results

Pericardial drainage (pericardiocentesis) is done to find the cause of fluid buildup around the heart and to relieve pressure on the heart. The excess fluid removed during the pericardial drainage will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Some results will be available within hours, while others may take days or weeks.

Pericardial drainage
Normal:

No bacteria, red blood cells, or cancer cells are present in the pericardial fluid.

No white blood cells (WBCs) are in pericardial fluid.

The pericardial fluid is clear or pale yellow.

Sugar (glucose) is present, but in amounts similar to that found in the blood.

There is less than 50 mL (2 fl oz) of fluid in the pericardial sac.

Abnormal:

The pericardial fluid contains blood, bacteria, or cancer cells.

White blood cells are in the pericardial fluid.

The pericardial fluid looks cloudy.

There is more than 50 mL (2 fl oz) of fluid in the pericardial sac.

Abnormal values

A buildup of pericardial fluid may be caused by:

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Recent use of antibiotics.
  • You take a blood-thinning medicine.
  • You have a bleeding disorder.

What To Think About

  • In some cases, a small sample of tissue may be removed and examined under a microscope (biopsy) to identify certain diseases of the pericardium. This surgery will be done under general anesthesia.
  • An echocardiogram may be done at the same time as pericardial drainage. For more information, see the topic Echocardiogram.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 13, 2012
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.

Today on WebMD

cholesterol lab test report
Article
Compressed heart
Article
 
heart rate graph
Article
Compressed heart
Article
 
empty football helmet
Article
Heart Valve
Video
 
eating blueberries
Article
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Slideshow
 
Inside A Heart Attack
SLIDESHOW
Omega 3 Sources
SLIDESHOW
 
Salt Shockers
SLIDESHOW
lowering blood pressure
SLIDESHOW