Echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis for treatment of clinically significant pericardial effusion in rheumatoid arthritis

Sanderson A. Cauduro, Kevin G. Moder, Harvinder S. Luthra, James B. Seward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective. To assess the safety and efficacy of echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and hemodynamically significant pericardial effusion. Methods. We identified 16 patients with RA who underwent 18 echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis procedures at our institution over a 20-year period. Clinical and laboratory characteristics of the patients, response to treatment, complications, and need for future pericardial surgery were abstracted from the echocardiography database. Results. Ten patients were men and 6 were women (mean age, 62 yrs; range, 36-75 yrs). On average, patients were diagnosed with RA 11 years before pericardial disease developed. Twelve of 15 patients were seropositive for rheumatoid factor, 10 patients had radiographic evidence of erosions, and 7 patients had rheumatoid nodules. Cardiac tamponade was present in 11 of the 18 cases. Mean volume drained on the first pericardiocentesis was 504 ± 264 ml (range 120-1000 ml). The fluid was an exudate with a mean protein concentration of 5 g/dl (range 3.3-51.1 g/dl). All cultures and cytologic findings were negative for bacteria and neoplastic cells. No serious complications resulted from echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis. For 11 patients, a catheter was placed for intermittent drainage over an average of 3 days. Seven patients ultimately required a more definitive surgical procedure. Conclusion. Echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis is a safe and effective treatment for this uncommon but serious complication of RA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2173-2177
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006


  • Echocardiography
  • Pericardiocentesis
  • Pericarditis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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