We examined the in vivo mechanical behavior of the pericardium by measuring simultaneous atrial and intrapericardial pressures and mutually orthogonal, circumferential, and longitudinally oriented pericardial segment lengths (ultrasonic gauges) in 10 open-chest dogs. Venous return was varied by a combination of caval occlusion followed by volume loading. Up to a mean left atrial pressure of 25 mmHg, the pericardium lengthened virtually exclusively in the circumferential direction (n = 9). Thus, at an intrapericardial pressure of 6.0 ± 1.0 (± SD) mmHg, circumferential strain (normalized to length at pericardial pressure 0 mmHg) was 0.30 ± 0.28, whereas longitudinal strain was 0.02 ± 0.06 (P < 0.05). In five of these dogs, alteration of external pericardial loading by severing the pericardial diaphragmatic attachments did not change the difference between circumferential and longitudinal strain, and in two the same directional strain difference was observed during production of cardiac tamponade. In three additional dogs the square of the circumferential segment length was closely correlated with the directly measured intrapericardial volume when saline was infused into the pericardial space in an in situ, arrested heart preparation. Our results indicate that there is marked directional variability in lengthening of the pericardium when the volume of its contents is altered in vivo. This phenomenon is probably the result of complex interactions between the properties of the pericardial tissue and the influence of its internal and external loads.
|American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
|Published - 1986