Pericardiocentesis in children: 20-year experience at a tertiary children's hospital

Christopher Herron, Thomas J. Forbes, Daisuke Kobayashi

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1 Scopus citations


Background: Pericardiocentesis is the invasive percutaneous procedure for acute and chronic excessive accumulation of pericardial fluid. There is a paucity of data on the effectiveness and safety of pericardiocentesis in children. Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of pericardiocentesis and factors associated with acute procedural failure and adverse events. Methods: This was a single-centered retrospective study to describe all the children aged ≤20 years who underwent pericardiocentesis. Data on demographics, etiologies of pericardial effusion, and repeat intervention at follow-up were collected. Results: A total of 127 patients underwent 153 pericardiocentesis. The median age was 6.5 years (1 day-20 years) with weight of 17 kg (0.5-125). Most common etiology was post-pericardiotomy syndrome (n = 56, 44%), followed by infectious (12%), malignant (10%), and iatrogenic (9%). Pericardiocentesis was performed more commonly in the catheterisation laboratory (n = 86, 59%). Concurrent pericardial drain placement was performed in 67 patients (53%). Acute procedural success was 92% (141/153). Repeat intervention was performed in 33 patients (22%). The incidence of adverse events was 4.6% (7/153): hemopericardium requiring emergent surgery (n = 2); hemopericardium with hypotension (n = 2); seizure with anesthesia induction (n = 1); and right ventricle puncture with needle (n = 2). Pericardiocentesis at the bedside had a higher rate of acute procedural failure than that in the catheterisation lab (17 versus 1%, p < 0.01). No identifiable risk factors were associated with adverse events. Conclusions: Pericardiocentesis was life-saving in children with its high effectiveness and safety even in urgent situations. Although initial pericardiocentesis was effective, one of five patients required re-intervention for recurrent pericardial effusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-611
Number of pages6
JournalCardiology in the young
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 26 2022


  • Pericardiocentesis
  • pericardial effusion
  • post-pericardiotomy syndrome


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