MR Imaging of Pericardial Diseases

Kristopher W. Cummings, MD; Antonio Luna, MD; Michael K. Atalay, MD, PhD


Appl Radiol. 2015;44(6):8-16. 

In This Article


The pericardium can be affected by infectious or inflammatory processes causing pericarditis; accumulation of excess fluid, causing tamponade, thickening and scarring of the layers leading to constriction; primary and metastatic neoplasms, and congenital processes that can be mistaken for masses or predispose to acute cardiac decompensation. In most cases, clinical examination and echocardiography are sufficient for diagnosis and management. However, subtle or overlapping clinical presentations and limited echocardiographic windows can occasionally lead to diagnostic uncertainty. Cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging has emerged as a powerful tool in the evaluation of pericardial disease. This article focuses on the MR characteristics of the most commonly encountered pericardial diseases and the adjunct role CMR can play in patient evaluation and management.