To determine the causes of cardiac failure during cardiac tamponade in man, we studied left ventricular volume and function in 8 patients during pericardiocentesis using gated equilibrium radionuclide ventriculography. In the 7 patients with clinical and hemodynamic evidence of cardiac tamponade, end-diastolic and end-systolic volumes increased progressively as the initial 500 ml of fluid were removed; the most marked increase occurred during the removal of the first 200 ml of pericardial fluid. After removal of 500 ml of pericardial fluid, end-diastolic volume increased from 52 ± 8 ml to 111 ± 13 ml (p < 0.05) and end-systolic volume from 17 ± 5 ml to 34 ± 7 ml (p < 0.05). Additional aspiration of fluid resulted in no further changes in left ventricular volume. The ejection fraction averaged 70% before removal of fluid and was unchanged by pericardiocentesis. In the one patient who did not have hemodynamic evidence of tamponade, there were only minor changes in left ventricular volumes and ejection fraction. These data suggest that pump function of the left ventricle is well preserved in cardiac tamponade, and that the diminution in stroke volume and consequent cardiovascular collapse seen in tamponade are due to marked underfilling of the ventricle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)