Pericardiocentesis

Alternate Names

  • Heart Fluid Analysis

Pericardiocentesis is performed by passing a needle through the chest wall, and your doctor will remove fluid from the space between the heart and the tough membrane that surrounds the heart (pericardium). The fluid is then analyzed, and the results are used to diagnose the cause of the abnormal build-up of fluid surrounding the heart. There are times where the increased amount of fluid surrounding the heart affects the ability of the heart to beat normally (cardiac tamponade), and the excess fluid is removed to ease these symptoms. The abnormal presence of excess fluid surrounding the heart is caused by pericarditis, low protein levels in the blood, CHF (congestive heart failure), ventricular aneurysm rupture, or cancer that has metastasized from another area. Various clinical lab tests will be run on the fluid; a culture will be done to test for the presence of bacteria or fungus causing the pericarditis; and the cells will be examined with a microscope (cytology).

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