Original Articles

Large Hemorrhagic Pericardial Effusion

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Click on the icon on the upper right hand side for the article by Leonid Barski, MD, Leah Shalev, MD, Miri Zektser, MD, Hadas Malada-Mazri, MD, Daniel Abramov, MD and Yael Rafaely, MD.
IMAJ 2012: 14: June: 367-371
Abstract

Background: Establishing the etiology of a large pericardial effusion is of crucial importance since it is likely the result of a serious underlying disease. However, there is a paucity of literature on the diagnostic management of patients with large hemorrhagic effusions.


Objectives: To analyze the management of patients with large hemorrhagic pericardial effusion.


Methods: We reviewed seven cases of large hemorrhagic pericardial effusions hospitalized in Soroka University Medical Center in 2010.


Results: All seven patients underwent a comprehensive evaluation followed by pericardiocentesis. Six of the seven cases demonstrated echocardiographic signs of tamponade. Large amounts of hemorrhagic pericardial effusion (> 600 ml) were aspirated from each patient. A pericardial window was performed in two of the seven patients. The causes for the hemorrhagic effusions were malignancy, streptococcal infection, familial Mediterranean fever exacerbation, and idiopathic. Four patients completely recovered. The condition of one patient improved after initiation of chemotherapy for lung cancer, and two patients with progressive malignancies passed away shortly after discharge. Two cases of massive pulmonary embolism were diagnosed which resolved spontaneously without anticoagulation therapy after the effusion was treated.


Conclusions: All cases of pericardial effusion resolved after rapid diagnosis and initiation of specific treatment. Pulmonary embolism in situ may be a complication of large pericardial effusions that does not require anticoagulation treatment after the effusion resolves.