Expert Opinions on the Debate of Pericardial Reconstruction in Cardiovascular Surgery: To Close or Not to Close?
Keywords:adhesions; CorMatrix; expert consensus; expert opinion; extracellular matrix; pericardial closure; pericardial patch; pericardial reconstruction; postoperative atrial fibrillation; ProxiCor.
Background: As of 2019, pericardial closure was performed in only a small portion of the over 320,000 cardiac surgeries performed annually. However, evidence regarding the benefits of pericardial closure or reconstruction has been accruing, particularly with the publication of the RECON study in 2019.
Methods: This group of authors convened to try to arrive at consensus expert opinion regarding pericardial reconstruction. Structured topic questions initially were used to stimulate discussion. Subsequently, a survey of proposed expert opinion statements was conducted among the authors. Based on that survey, consensus expert opinion statements and recommendations were compiled.
Results: The expert opinions encompass various topics relating to pericardial reconstruction, including definitions, benefits/risks, and technique. Observed benefits include reductions in: (1) adhesions; (2) postoperative pericardial effusion, atrial fibrillation, and bleeding; and (3) readmissions and length of hospital stay. Expert opinion recommendations regarding surgical technique are compiled into a single chart. Complete pericardial reconstruction should be performed, using native pericardial tissue if available and viable; if not feasible, a patch may be used. Patches that stimulate the formation of site-specific tissue in situ (such as natural extracellular matrix) may have additional benefits (including bioregenerative properties and lack of inflammatory response). Closure should be taut, but tension-free. Adequate drainage of the closed pericardium must be ensured.
Conclusions: Based on available data and collective surgical experience, we endorse pericardial reconstruction as standard approach in appropriately selected patients. We also endorse adoption of standardized pericardial reconstruction techniques to optimize patient outcomes and improve evidence quality in future studies.
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