Riverview Cardiac Surgery has expertise managing all diseases and conditions of the pericardium. Excessive fluid buildup can be diagnosed by cardiac ultrasound, transesophageal echocardiogram, or CAT scan, and may require drainage or creation of a pericardial window. In some cases, the heart may be compressed by the fluid causing shock, a condition known as pericardial tamponade. Riverview Cardiac Surgery manages these emergency conditions, as well as other pericardial conditions, such as pericardial fibrosis and constrictive pericarditis (excessive scar build-up on the heart surface).
The pericardium is a fibrous sac or bag which surrounds the heart and provides protection and stabilitiy. The pericardium normally contains a small amount of fluid to permit movement of the heart within this “heart sac.” Many diseases can affect the pericardium causing inflammation, scarring, or excessive fluid build-up (known as pericardial effusion). Furthermore, cancers from elsewhere in the body can metastasize to the pericardium which can affect the pumping ability of the heart within.
The results of the procedure are generally excellent. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for 3 to 4 weeks while the incision heals. Deep breathing and coughing exercises should be performed several times a day for several weeks. Early return to light exercise (walking, stationary bike) is also beneficial in healing and maintaining good lung function.