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pericardiocentesis

overview

When you have too much fluid in the sac that surrounds your heart (the pericardial sac), or if your doctor wants to check for signs of infection or cancer in that fluid, you may need pericardiocentesis. During this procedure, a needle and a small, hollow tube (catheter) are used to remove the fluid from around your heart.  

An increase in the fluid in your pericardial sac could be caused by an illness or disease, and when you have too much fluid, you could end up with shortness of breath and other problems. A pericardiocentesis can help relieve these symptoms.

what to expect

Pericardiocentesis usually takes less than 45 minutes. You may be given a mild sedative to help you relax. Your chest will be numbed before your doctor places the needle and inserts the catheter. An echocardiogram, done at the same time as the pericardiocentesis, helps your doctor figure out exactly where in the pericardial sac the fluid has collected. When the procedure is done, the catheter may be left in place to continue to drain more fluid. 

Your doctor will discuss any follow-up care that is needed, to ensure you have continued success and relieved symptoms.

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