What is the role of a subxiphoid pericardial window in the treatment of pericardial effusion?

Updated: Nov 28, 2018
  • Author: William J Strimel, DO, FACP; Chief Editor: Terrence X O'Brien, MD, MS, FACC  more...
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This procedure is associated with low morbidity, mortality, and recurrence rates, and can be considered as a reasonable alternative diagnostic or treatment modality to pericardiocentesis in selected patients. [37]

The surgery can be performed under local anesthesia. This is advantageous because general anesthesia often leads to decreased sympathetic tone, resulting in hemodynamic collapse in patients with pericardial tamponade and shock. This procedure may be less effective when effusion is loculated.

One study indicated that the procedure may be safer and more effective at reducing recurrence rates than pericardiocentesis. However, only patients who were hemodynamically unstable underwent pericardiocentesis, and no change in overall survival rate was observed.

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