How is pericardial effusion treated?

Updated: Nov 28, 2018
  • Author: William J Strimel, DO, FACP; Chief Editor: Terrence X O'Brien, MD, MS, FACC  more...
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Most acute idiopathic or viral pericarditis occurrences are self-limited and respond to treatment with an NSAID. Colchicine or prednisone may be administered for severe inflammatory pericardial effusions or when NSAID treatment has failed.  Colchicine is preferred over steroids (unless specifically indicated), as the latter is associated with an increassed incidence of recurrent pericarditis. 

Autoimmune pericardial effusions may respond to treatment with anti-inflammatory medications. In general, selection of an agent depends on the severity of the patient's symptoms and the tolerability and adverse-effect profiles of the medications.

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