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Cardiac tamponade is compression of the heart that occurs when blood or fluid builds up in the space between the myocardium (heart muscle) and the pericardium (outer covering sac of the heart).
Tamponade; Pericardial tamponade
In this condition, blood or fluid collects in the pericardium. This prevents the ventricles from expanding fully. The excess pressure from the fluid prevents the heart from functioning normally.
Cardiac tamponade can occur due to:
Other potential causes include:
Cardiac tamponade occurs in approximately 2 out of 10,000 people.
Other symptoms that may occur with this disorder:
There are no specific laboratory tests that diagnose tamponade. Echocardiogram is typically used to help establish the diagnosis.
Other tests may include:
Cardiac tamponade is an emergency condition that requires hospitalization.
The fluid around the heart must be drained. Pericardiocentesis is a procedure that uses a needle to remove fluid from the pericardial sac, the tissue that surrounds the heart.
A procedure to cut and remove part of the pericardium (surgical pericardiectomy or pericardial window) may also be done.
Fluids are given to maintain normal blood pressure until pericardiocentesis can be performed. Medications that increase blood pressure may also help sustain the patient's life until the fluid is drained.
The patient may be given oxygen. This reduces the workload on the heart by decreasing tissue demands for blood flow.
The cause of the tamponade must be identified and treated.
Tamponade is life-threatening if untreated. The outcome is often good if the condition is treated promptly, but tamponade may come back.
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if symptoms develop. Cardiac tamponade is an emergency condition requiring immediate attention.
Many cases are not preventable. Awareness of your personal risk factors may allow early diagnosis and treatment.
Jacob R, Grimm RA. Pericardial disease. In: Carey WD, ed. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2008:chap 23.