How is a pericardiectomy performed?

Pericardiectomy is performed through a median sternotomy, an incision through the breastbone (sternum) in the middle front part of the ribs that allows the surgeon to reach the heart. The surgeon will remove the pericardium from the heart, wire the breastbone and ribs back together and close the incision with stitches. Other surgeons may use a thoracotomy approach.

A pericardiectomy cannot safely be done minimally invasively.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/09/2018.


  • National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. PubMed Health. Pericarditis – constrictive. June 2012. Accessed Dec. 9, 2013.
  • Bertog et al Bertog SC, Thambidorai SK, Parakh K, Schoenhagen P, Ozduran V, Houghtaling PL, Lytle BW, Blackstone EH, Lauer MS, Klein AL. Constrictive pericarditis: etiology and cause-specific survival after pericardiectomy. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004 Apr 21;43(8):1445-52.

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