What is the role of echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis in 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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Echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis has evolved over the past 20 years and is now considered the procedure of choice for removal of pericardial fluid. This technique differs from traditional blind pericardiocentesis primarily in the site of needle entry, in which the left chest wall has become the preferred location for needle entry. The intended needle trajectory is investigated with echocardiography to confirm the optimal direction and depth for needle advancement. A 16-gauge needle (with poly-Teflon sheath) is advanced in a straight line without side-to-side manipulation. Needle position can be established via echocardiography while agitated sterile saline is injected.

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