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 can be caused by many things including infection, heart attack, or chest injury.

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.

Current as of: July 21, 2016

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology