What is the safety of pericardiocentesis for the diagnosis of acute pericarditis?

Updated: Apr 02, 2019
  • Author: Sean Spangler, MD; Chief Editor: Terrence X O'Brien, MD, MS, FACC  more...
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Pericardiocentesis under fluoroscopic guidance or echocardiography "is the gold standard for pericardial drainage and biopsy." [3, 4]

This procedure is relatively safe when guided by echocardiography, especially with large free anterior effusion. One study noted only 3 minor complications in 117 procedures with ultrasound guidance. Conversely, blind percutaneous pericardial puncture increases the risk of complication to 5-50% and should be performed only in an emergency. Complications include fatal cardiac laceration.

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