How is the pericardial fluid characterized in diagnosis of acute pericarditis with an underlying inflammatory disorder?

Updated: Apr 02, 2019
  • Author: Sean Spangler, MD; Chief Editor: Terrence X O'Brien, MD, MS, FACC  more...
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The fluid in RA and SLE pericarditis demonstrates few polymorphonuclear neutrophils, lymphocytes, or histiocytes. The usual volume is 50-200 mL and accumulates slowly. Also found in SLE pericardial fluid is a high protein level, low-to-normal glucose level, low complement, and, possibly, a pH level of less than 7. In addition, fluid analysis reveals positive autoantibodies, such as ANA or anti–double-stranded DNA.

Pericardial fluid in scleroderma has a protein value greater than 5 g/dL and a low cell count, but it does not demonstrate the antibodies found in RA and SLE.

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