Ortal Fallek Boldes BSc, Shani Dahan MD, Yahel Segal MD, Dana Ben-Ami Shor MD, Robert K. Huber MD, Iris Barshack MD, Yuval Horowitz MD, Gad Segal MD and Amir Dagan MD
Background: Pericardial biopsies are rarely performed during the diagnosis and management of pericardial diseases. The circumstances and clinical profile of patients undergoing pericardial biopsies are largely uncharacterized.
Objectives: To examine the circumstances in which pericardial biopsies are obtained and to evaluate their diagnostic yield.
Methods: We studied a total of 100 cases (71% males, mean age 60.8 years, range 8.1–84.5 years) of surgically resected pericardium specimens obtained from 2000 to 2015 at Sheba Medical Center, the largest medical center in Israel. Patients were classified into groups according to four major histological etiologies: idiopathic pericarditis, constrictive pericarditis, malignant pericarditis, and post-cardiac injury syndrome (PCIS). The clinical history and course, laboratory, echocardiography, and histological results were reviewed retrospectively.
Results: Causes of pericarditis according to histological definitions included idiopathic pericarditis (29%), constrictive pericarditis (29%), PCIS (9%), and malignant pericarditis (26%). Overall sensitivity of the pericardial biopsy in patients with malignancy was 57.7%. During the study period, we found a trend toward an increased number of biopsies due to constrictive pericarditis and PCIS, along with a decrease in the number of biopsies performed in patients with malignant or idiopathic pericarditis. The diagnosis following biopsy did not change for any of the patients.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest a low diagnostic yield from pericardial biopsies, especially in malignant pericarditis. This conclusion, along with novel therapies, resulted in the infrequent use of pericardial biopsy in recent years.