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Cardiac tamponade Cardiac tamponade Cardiac tamponade is the compression of the heart that occurs when blood or fluid

builds up in the space between the myocardium (the muscle of the heart) and the pericardium (the outer covering sac of the heart). Causes In this condition, blood or fluid collects within the pericardium. This prevents the ventricles from expanding fully. They cannot fill enough or pump blood. Cardiac tamponade can occur due to:

Dissecting aortic aneurysm (thoracic) End-stage lung cancer Heart attack (acute MI) Heart surgery Pericarditis caused by bacterial or viral infections Wounds to the heart

Other potential causes include:


Heart tumors Hypothyroidism Kidney failure Radiation therapy to the chest Recent invasive heart procedures Recent open heart surgery Systemic lupus erythematosus

Cardiac tamponade occurs in approximately 2 out of 10,000 people. Symptoms


Anxiety, restlessness Chest pain o Radiating to the neck, shoulder, back, or abdomen o Sharp, stabbing o Worsened by deep breathing or coughing Difficulty breathing Discomfort, sometimes relieved by sitting upright or leaning forward Fainting, light-headedness Pale, gray, or blue skin Palpitations

Rapid breathing Swelling of the abdomen or other areas

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:


Dizziness Drowsiness Low blood pressure Weak or absent pulse

Exams and Tests There are no specific laboratory tests that diagnose tamponade. Echocardiogram is the first choice to help establish the diagnosis. Signs:

Blood pressure may fall (pulsus paradoxical) when the person inhales deeply Breathing may be rapid (faster than 12 breaths in an adult per minute) Heart rate may be over 100 (normal is 60 to 100 beats per minute) Heart sounds faint during examination with a stethoscope Neck veins may be abnormally extended (distended) but the blood pressure may be low Peripheral pulses may be weak or absent

Other tests may include:


Chest CT or MRI of chest Chest x-ray Coronary angiography ECG

Treatment Cardiac tamponade is an emergency condition that requires hospitalization. The purpose of treatment is to:

Save the patient's life Improve heart function Relieve symptoms Treat the tamponade

Treatment usually involves a procedure to drain the fluid around the heart (pericardiocentesis) or to cut and remove part of the pericardium (surgical pericardiectomy or pericardial window).

Fluids are given to maintain normal blood pressure until pericardiocentesis can be performed. Medications that increase blood pressure may also help sustain the patient's life until the fluid is drained. The patient may be given oxygen. This reduces the workload on the heart by decreasing tissue demands for blood flow. The cause of the tamponade must be identified and treated. Treatment of the cause may include medications such as antibiotics, and surgery to repair the injury. Outlook (Prognosis) Tamponade is life-threatening if untreated. The outcome is often good if the condition is treated promptly, but tamponade may recur. Possible Complications

Heart failure Pulmonary edema

When to Contact a Medical Professional Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if symptoms develop. Cardiac tamponade is an emergency condition requiring immediate attention. Prevention Many cases are not preventable. Awareness of your personal risk factors may allow early diagnosis and treatment. Alternative Names Tamponade; Pericardial tamponade Update Date: 5/15/2008 Updated by: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. Cardiac tamponade, also known as pericardial tamponade, is an emergency condition in which fluid accumulates in the pericardium (the sac in which the heart is enclosed). If the fluid significantly elevates the pressure on the heart it will prevent the heart's ventricles from filling properly. This in turn leads to a low stroke volume. The end result is ineffective pumping of blood,shock, and often death.

Causes Cardiac tamponade occurs when the pericardial space fills up with fluid faster than the pericardial sac can stretch. If the amount of fluid increases slowly (such as in hypothyroidism) the pericardial sac can expand to contain a liter or more of fluid prior to tamponade occurring. If the fluid occurs rapidly (as may occur after trauma or myocardial rupture) as little as 100 ml can cause tamponade.[1] Causes of increased pericardial effusion include hypothyroidism, physical trauma (either penetrating trauma involving the pericardium or blunt chest trauma), pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium), iatrogenic trauma (during an invasive procedure), and myocardial rupture. Cardiac tamponade is caused by a large or uncontrolled pericardial effusion, i.e. the buildup of fluid inside the pericardium.[2] This commonly occurs as a result of chest trauma (both blunt and penetrating),[3] but can also be caused by myocardial rupture, cancer, uraemia, pericarditis, or cardiac surgery,[2] and rarely occurs during retrograde aortic dissection,[4] or whilst the patient is taking anticoagulant therapy.[5] The effusion can occur rapidly (as in the case of trauma or myocardial rupture), or over a more gradual period of time (as in cancer). The fluid involved is oftenblood, but pus is also found in some circumstances.[2] Myocardial rupture is a somewhat uncommon cause of pericardial tamponade. It typically happens in the subacute setting after a myocardial infarction (heart attack), in which the infarcted muscle of the heart thins out and tears. Myocardial rupture is more likely to happen in elderly individuals without any previous cardiac history who suffer from their first heart attack and are not revascularized either with thrombolytic therapy or with percutaneous coronary intervention or with coronary artery bypass graft surgery.[6] One of the most common settings for cardiac tamponade is in the first 24 to 48 hours after heart surgery. After heart surgery, chest tubes are placed to drain blood. These chest tubes, however, are prone to clot formation. When a chest tube becomes occluded or clogged, the blood that should be drained can accumulate around the heart, leading to tamponade. Nurses will frequently milk clots from the tubes, or strip the tubes, but even with these efforts chest tubes can become clogged. Thus, after heart surgery it is critical to be on the watch for chest tube clogging.

[edit]Pathophysiology The outer pericardium is made of fibrous tissue[7] which does not easily stretch, and so once fluid begins to enter the pericardial space, pressure starts to increase.[2] If fluid continues to accumulate, then with each successive diastolic period, less and less blood enters the ventricles, as the increasing pressure presses on the heart and forces the septum to bend into the left ventricle, leading to decreased stroke volume.[2] This causesobstructive shock to develop, and if left untreated then cardiac arrest may occur (in which case the presenting rhythm is likely to be pulseless electrical activity) [edit]Diagnosis Initial diagnosis can be challenging, as there are a number of differential diagnoses, including tension pneumothorax,[3] and acute heart failure.[citation needed] In a trauma patient presenting with PEA (pulseless electrical activity) in the absence of hypovolemia and tension pneumothorax, the most likely diagnosis is cardiac tamponade.[8] Classical cardiac tamponade presents three signs, known as Beck's triad. Hypotension occurs because of decreased stroke volume, jugular-venous distension due to impaired venous return to the heart, and muffled heart sounds due to fluid inside the pericardium.[9] Other signs of tamponade include pulsus paradoxus (a drop of at least 10mmHg in arterial blood pressure on inspiration),[2] and ST segmentchanges on the electrocardiogram,[9] which may also show low voltage QRS complexes,[5] as well as general signs & symptoms of shock (such as tachycardia, breathlessness and decreasing level of consciousness). Tamponade can often be diagnosed radiographically, if time allows. Echocardiography, which is the diagnostic test of choice**, often demonstrates an enlarged pericardium or collapsed ventricles, and a chest x-ray of a large cardiac tamponade will show a large, globular heart.[5] [edit]Treatment [edit]Pre-hospital care Initial treatment given will usually be supportive in nature, for example administration of oxygen, and monitoring. There is little care that can be provided pre-hospital other than general treatment for shock. A number of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) in the UK, which have doctor/paramedic teams, have performed an

emergency thoracotomy to release clotting in the pericardium caused by a penetrating chest injury. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is the key to survival with tamponade. Some pre-hospital providers will have facilities to providepericardiocentesis, which can be life-saving. If the patient has already suffered a cardiac arrest, pericardiocentesis alone cannot ensure survival, and so rapid evacuation to a hospital is usually the more appropriate course of action. [edit]Hospital management Initial management in hospital is by pericardiocentesis.[3] This involves the insertion of a needle through the skin and into the pericardium and through the fifth intercostal space, and aspirating fluid. Often, a cannula is left in place during resuscitation following initial drainage so that the procedure can be performed again if the need arises. If facilities are available, an emergency pericardial window may be performed instead,[3]during which the pericardium is cut open to allow fluid to drain. Following stabilization of the patient, surgery is provided to seal the source of the bleed and mend the pericardium.