1. What is pericardiocentesis and how is it performed?
Pericardiocentesis is the removal of pericardial fluid from the pericardial sac with a needle and syringe. An intravenous (IV) line may be started and the person may be given medications prior to the sample collection. The patient is positioned lying down. A local anesthetic is applied, then the doctor inserts a needle into the space between the ribs (fifth to sixth intercostals space) on the left side of the chest and into the pericardial sac and removes a fluid sample. An ultrasound may be used to help guide the needle.
2. Are there other reasons to do a pericardiocentesis?
Yes. Sometimes it will be performed to drain excess pericardial fluid – to relieve pressure on the heart and/or to aid in the treatment of an infection. Sometimes a catheter drain is left in place for a period of time to remove larger amounts of fluid and to drain recurrent fluid accumulations. Sometimes medications will be introduced into the space during the pericardiocentesis.
This article was last reviewed on July 8, 2012. | This article was last modified on October 8, 2014.
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