What is the role of pericardial fluid in the pathophysiology of cardiac tamponade?

Updated: Nov 28, 2018
  • Author: Chakri Yarlagadda, MD, FACC, FSCAI, FASNC, CCDS; Chief Editor: Terrence X O'Brien, MD, MS, FACC  more...
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Answer

The amount of pericardial fluid needed to impair diastolic filling of the heart depends on the rate of fluid accumulation and the compliance of the pericardium. Rapid accumulation of as little as 150mL of fluid can result in a marked increase in pericardial pressure and can severely impede cardiac output, [2] whereas 1000 mL of fluid may accumulate over a longer period without any significant effect on diastolic filling of the heart. This is due to adaptive stretching of the pericardium over time. A compliant pericardium can allow considerable fluid accumulation over a long time period without hemodynamic compromise.


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