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Pericardiocentesis

(Also Called 'Pericardial Tap', '')

Definition:

Pericardium

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.


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