The workup of moderate-to-large pericardial effusion should focus on its hemodynamic impact and potential cause. A structured approach to diagnostic evaluation of pericardial effusion is needed. We retrospectively studied a contemporary cohort of 103 patients with moderate-to-large pericardial effusion hospitalized at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center from July 2009 till August 2013. Diagnosis of pericardial effusion was independently ascertained by chart review. We applied a stepwise parsimonious approach to establish the cause of pericardial effusion. In the studied cohort, the mean age was 61 years, 50% were men, and 65 patients (63%) underwent pericardial effusion drainage. Using the structured approach, the cause of the effusion was ascertained in 70 patients (68%) by noninvasive targeted testing. Malignant effusion was confirmed in 19 patients (19%). All patients with malignant effusion had either history of malignancy or suggestive noninvasive findings. In conclusion, a structured approach can help to ascertain the diagnosis in patients with moderate-to-large pericardial effusion and guide the need for pericardial drainage or sampling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine