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Pericardial Effusion

Pericardial effusion is a buildup of fluid in the space between the heart and the sac around the heart (pericardium).

Pericardial effusion can be caused by pericarditis, an inflammation of the pericardium. Pericarditis may be caused by heart attack, kidney failure, bacterial or viral infection, or cancer treatment.

Pericarditis can also cause chest pain and, in rare cases, increased pressure on the heart (cardiac tamponade).

If the fluid buildup is gradual and the heart is tolerating the increased fluid around it, treatment of the underlying cause may be tried first. In some cases, the fluid might need to be drained.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Current as of March 12, 2014

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.