What is the role of pericardial biopsy in the workup 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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Occasionally, a pericardial biopsy is performed when the etiology of the pericardial effusion that caused the tamponade is unclear. This is especially useful in cases of tuberculous pericardial effusions, because cultures of the pericardial fluid in these cases rarely yield a positive result for mycobacteria. However, granulomas seen on pericardial biopsy specimens are often seen in patients with tuberculous pericarditis.

In general, cytopathologic findings from pericardial fluid and histologic findings from pericardial biopsy specimens depend on the underlying pathology. Cytologic examination identifies the etiopathologic cause of tamponade in about 75% of cases; it is particulalry useful for identifying malignancy-associated effusions. [23]

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