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Chronic Pericarditis


Chronic pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium for longer than 3 months. The pericardium is the thin sac that surrounds your heart. A small amount of clear fluid between the heart and the sac allows the heart to beat easily. With pericarditis, the amount of fluid increases and may contain pus. This can cause problems with the way that your heart beats.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


You may need to rest and avoid physical activity. Ask your healthcare provider what you are allowed to do while you are in the hospital.


  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine: These medicines are also called NSAIDs. They help decrease pain, swelling, and fever.
  • Proton pump inhibitors: These are used to help prevent problems that can happen when you use NSAIDs, such as an upset stomach.
  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation.


  • 12-lead ECG: This test, also called an EKG, helps healthcare providers look for damage or problems in the heart. Sticky pads are placed on your chest, arms, and legs. Each sticky pad has a wire that is hooked to a machine or monitor. Electrical activity in your heart muscle is recorded.
  • Echocardiogram: This test is also called an echo. It uses sound waves to show pictures of your heart and how your heart moves when it is beating. An echo can also see fluid around the heart and problems with your heart valves.
  • Imaging tests: Tests such as chest x-rays, computerized tomography scan (CT scan), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) take pictures of your chest. This shows your healthcare provider fluid around the heart.
  • Pericardial biopsy: Your healthcare provider will make a cut into your chest and remove a small piece of the heart sac. It is then sent to a lab for tests.
  • Pericardiocentesis: This procedure uses a long needle to take a fluid sample from the sac. The sample is sent to a lab for tests. This procedure can also remove extra fluid and decrease or take away your symptoms.
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram:
    • A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a type of ultrasound that shows pictures of the size and shape of your heart. It also looks at how your heart moves when it is beating. These pictures are seen on a TV-like screen. You may need a TEE if your heart does not show up very well in a regular echocardiogram. You may also need a TEE to check for certain problems such as blood clots or infection inside the heart.
    • You will be given medicine to relax you during a TEE. Healthcare providers put a tube in your mouth that is moved down into your esophagus (food pipe). The tube has a small ultrasound sensor on the end. Since your esophagus is right next to your heart, your healthcare provider can see your heart clearly.


You may need any of the following procedures:

  • Balloon pericardiotomy: This uses a small balloon to make a hole in your heart sac to drain fluid.
  • Pericardial biopsy: Your healthcare provider will make a cut into your chest and remove a small piece of the heart sac. It is then sent to a lab for tests.
  • Pericardiectomy: Your healthcare provider makes a cut into your chest and removes or repairs areas of the sac that are damaged.
  • Pericardiocentesis: Extra fluid in the sac is removed to help your heart beat better. A long thin needle is inserted in your chest, up to the space between your heart and the sac. Fluid is removed through the needle.


You may have infection or bleeding when the fluid in the sac is removed. Even after treatment, your condition may come back. Without treatment, your heart can scar. Your heart may not beat correctly, and there might not be enough blood and oxygen getting to your body organs. This may damage your organs and be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Chronic Pericarditis (Inpatient Care)

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