Objective: To evaluate the treatment strategies for primary and secondary management of malignancy-related pericardial effusions. Patients and Methods: Retrospective review of Mayo Clinic Rochester charts and external records of patients with pericardial effusion associated with malignant disease who required treatment between February 1979 and June 1998 was performed. Telephone interviews with patients, their families, or their physicians were conducted to determine the outcomes of treatment. Recurrence of pericardial effusion and survival were the main outcome measures. Results: Of 1002 consecutive pericardiocenteses performed during the period under study, 341 were performed in 275 patients with confirmed malignant disease. Patients were followed up for a minimum of 190 days, unless death occurred first. Of 275 patients, recurrence of pericardial effusion or persistent drainage necessitated secondary management in 59 (43 of 118 simple pericardiocenteses, 16 of 139 pericardiocenteses with extended catheter drainage, and 0 of 18 pericardial surgery following temporizing pericardiocentesis). Recurrence was strongly and independently predicted by absence of pericardial catheter for extended drainage, large effusion size, and emergency procedures. Recurrence after secondary management occurred in 12 patients: 11 underwent successful pericardiocentesis with extended catheter drainage, and 1 had pericardial surgery. Median survival of the cohort was 135 days, and 26% survived the first year after diagnosis of pericardial effusion. Male sex, positive fluid cytology for malignant cells, lung cancer, and clinical presentation of tamponade or hemodynamic collapse were independently associated with poor survival. Conclusion: Echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis with extended catheter drainage appears to be safe and effective for both primary and secondary management of pericardial effusion in patients with malignancy.
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