Comparisons of effectiveness and safety of operations on the pericardium

G. M. Palatianos, R. J. Thurer, G. A. Kaiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


A ten-year experience wih operations on the pericardium in 71 consecutive patients was reviewed. The patients ranged in age from nine months to 75 years old. Fifty-three patients were operated upon for pericardial effusion and 14 for pericardial constriction. Sixty-seven patients had pericarditis: 21 of them underwent subxiphoid tube drainage; ten, limited pericardiectomy; and the remaining 36, extensive pericardiectomy. There were two trauma victims who underwent diagnostic pericardiotomy. Two patients underwent excision of pericardial cysts. There was one operative death during extensive pericardiectomy for constrictive tuberculous pericarditis. Thirty-day mortality was three of 21 patients after subxiphoid tube drainage, three of ten after limited pericardiectomy and five of 36 after extensive pericardiectomy. Postoperative complications consisted of pulmonary problems in four patients (two after pericardiectomy and two after extensive pericardiectomy), cardiac arrhythmia in one patient after tube drainage and postpericardiotomy syndrome in one patient after extensive pericardiectomy. Mean follow-up was 3.2 years. Recurrent pericardial effusion occurred in two patients; one had limited pericardiectomy but did not require reoperation and one had diagnostic pericardiotomy without drainage. Six patients with persistent postirradiation pericardial effusion were treated effectively with extensive pericardiectomy. Our experience indicates that subxiphoid tube drainage is effective for the treatment of pericardial effusion and safer than limited pericardiectomy, while extensive pericardiectomy is the operation of choice for pericardial constriction and radiation-related pericardial effusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-33
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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