The Role of Videopericardioscopy in Evaluating Indeterminate Pericardial Effusions
Background. The pericardial biopsy has opened a new perspective for the etiologic diagnosis of pericardial effusions, because adequate pericardial visualization via the use of a video camera can provide more accurate results. We assessed the usefulness of videopericardioscopy for the diagnosis and treatment of pericardial effusion of indeterminate origin.
Methods. We conducted a retrospective study of clinical data from patients who underwent videopericardioscopy examination for pericardial effusion without an established diagnosis. The video-assisted pericardioscopy procedure was performed through a small incision in the xiphoid area.
Results. From January 1998 to January 2007, 101 consecutive patients underwent videopericardioscopy evaluation for pericardial effusion. Ten patients were excluded because of lack of data. Fifty men and 41 women were included (mean age, 50 years; range, 14-76 years). All of the patients had moderate or significant pericardial effusion as demonstrated by echocardiography or computed tomography. The following diagnoses for the pericardial effusions were established: nonspecific inflammation, 50 cases (54.94%); neoplastic disorders, 22 cases (24.17%); tuberculous, 11 cases (12.08%); bacterial inflammatory process, 3 cases (3.29%); chylopericardial, 2 cases (2.19%); fungal infection, 2 cases (2.19%); and viral infection, 1 case (1.09%). Pericardioscopy evaluation provided the definitive diagnosis via the pericardial biopsy in 36.26% of the cases and via the results of fluid analyses in 13.18% of the cases; the use of both methods established the definitive diagnosis in 45.05% of the cases in this group of patients. The overall morbidity rate was 4.3%, and the most common complication was arrhythmia due to intraoperative manipulation, which ceased with the removal of the instruments from the pericardial cavity. We had 1 death, by cardiac tamponade, in the perioperative period.
Conclusion. Videopericardioscopy is a safe and efficient method for obtaining a better diagnosis of and satisfactory therapeutic results for pericardial effusions of indeterminate cause, and such results are obtained via an improved exploration of the pericardial cavity.
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