800.659.7822 Toll Free


(Also Called 'Pericardial Tap', '')



Pictured Above is the Pericardium

An invasive procedure that involves using a needle and catheter to remove fluid from the sac around the heart. The fluid may then be sent to a laboratory for tests to look for signs of infection or cancer.

Your doctor uses pericardiocentesis to:

  • determine cause of fluid around the heart
  • relieve symptoms, such as shortness of breath
  • diagnose infection or cancer

To prepare:

  • You can wear whatever you like to the hospital. You will wear a hospital gown during the procedure.
  • Leave all valuables at home.
  • Your doctor or nurse will give you specific instructions about what you can and cannot eat or drink before the procedure.
  • Ask your doctor what medications should be taken on the day of your test.
  • If you are diabetic, ask your physician how to adjust your medications the day of your test.
  • Tell your doctor and/or nurses if you are allergic to anything.
  • Bring all medications and any previous test results.
  • You will need a companion to bring you home.

What to expect:

  • You will be given a hospital gown to wear.
  • The room is cool and dimly lit. You will lie on a special table
  • You will be given a mild sedative to relax you, but you will be awake and conscious during the entire procedure.
  • The doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb an area on your chest. A needle will be inserted and then a catheter (a thin plastic tube) into the pericardial sac around your heart. The doctor may use a x-ray or echocardiograph machine to make sure the catheter is positioned correctly. The doctor will drain the fluid that has collected around your heart.
  • When the fluid has been removed, the catheter will be removed.

The procedure takes about 20 to 60 minutes.

Please ask your doctor if you have any questions about pericardiocentesis.

Cleveland Clinic Mobile Site