Pericardiocentesis is a procedure that uses a needle to remove fluid from the pericardial sac, the tissue that surrounds the heart.
Pericardial tap; Percutaneous pericardiocentesis
How the test is performed
The procedure is usually done in an intensive care unit’s procedure room or even at the bedside.
A health care provider will put an
The health care provider will clean an area just below the breastbone and apply numbing medication (anesthetic). The doctor will insert a needle and guide it into tissue that surrounds the heart.
Once the needle has reached the correct area, it is removed and replaced with a tube called a catheter. Fluid drains through this tube into containers. Usually, the pericardial catheter is left in place so draining may continue for several hours.
Surgical pericardiocentesis may be necessary in difficult cases. This is a more invasive procedure, which may require general anesthesia.
How to prepare for the test
You may not be able to eat or drink for 6 hours before the test. You must sign a consent form.
How the test will feel
You may feel pressure as the needle enters. Some people have
Why the test is performed
This test may be done to remove and examine fluid that is pressing on the heart. It is usually done to evaluate the cause of a chronic or recurrent
It may also be done to treat
There is normally a small amount of clear, straw-colored fluid in the pericardial space.
What abnormal results mean
Abnormal findings may indicate the cause of pericardial fluid accumulation, such as:
- Cardiac perforation
- Cardiac trauma
Congestive heart failure Pericarditis
- Rupture of a ventricular
What the risks are
- Collapsed lung
- Heart attack
- Infection (pericarditis)
- Irregular heartbeats (
- Puncture of the heart muscle, coronary artery, lung, liver, or stomach
- Pneumopericardium (air in the pericardial sac)