Constrictive pericarditis (CP) represents a form of severe diastolic heart failure (HF), secondary to a noncompliant pericardium. The true prevalence of CP is unknown but it is observed in 0.2–0.4% of patients who have undergone cardiac surgery or have had pericardial trauma or inflammation due to a variety of etiologies. Despite its poor prognosis if untreated, CP is a potentially curable disease and surgical pericardiectomy can now be performed at low perioperative mortality in tertiary centers with surgical expertise in pericardial diseases. Cardiologists should have a high index of suspicion for CP in patients presenting with predominant right-sided (HF), particularly when a history of cardiac surgery, pericarditis or pericardial effusion is present. Transthoracic two-dimensional and Doppler echocardiography is usually the first diagnostic tool in the evaluation of HF and can reliably identify CP in most patients by characteristic real-time motion of the heart and hemodynamic features. Computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging provide incremental data for the diagnosis and management of CP and are especially helpful when clinical or echocardiographic findings are inconclusive. Cardiac catheterization has been the gold-standard for the diagnosis of CP, but may not be necessary if non-invasive test(s) demonstrate diagnostic features of CP; it should then be reserved for selected cases or for assessment of concomitant coronary disease. Although most patients with CP require pericardiectomy, anti-inflammatory therapy may be curative in patients presenting with subacute symptoms, especially when evidence of marked ongoing inflammation is seen.
- Constrictive pericarditis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine