What is Pericardiectomy ?

Pericardium is double-walled and a membrane sac that covers our heart. Containing a small amount of fluid which is useful in lubricating the heart during its pumping movements. Surgically removing the pericardium is known as pericardiectomy.


What is the function of our pericardium ?

The function of the pericardium is to protect the heart from infections and other sources of diseases. It prevents the heart from over expanding in conditions such as pregnancy or kidney failure.


When is pericardectomy performed ?

Pericardiectomy is performed when our pericardium becomes very stiff or grossly calcified which is termed as constrictive pericarditis. When the pericardium becomes stiff, it prevents the heart from stretching normally which leads the blood vessels to be incompletely filled leading to heart failure. In such situations the pericardium has to be removed.


What causes constrictive pericarditis ?

There are many causes for constrictive pericarditis. Mainly the following causes are identified.

  • History of heart surgeries
  • Radiation to the chest
  • Tuberculosis
  • Mesothelioma
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Any surgical complications

Can the heart function normally without a pericardium ?

The pericardium is usually not essential for normal heart functioning. In patients with pericarditis, the pericardium already has essentially lost its lubricating ability so removing it does not make a difference as long as the diaphragm and lungs function normally.


Alternatives before surgery for treating pericarditis

The inflammation of the pericardium can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications for a period of 3 to 6 months if the inflammation is in the early stages.


How pericardiectomy is performed ?

Pericardiectomy is performed by making an incision through the breast bone (Sternum) which is located in the middle part of the ribs allowing the surgeon to reach the heart.


Risks associated with pericardiactomy ?

The surgery is performed by a cardio thoracic surgeon. There may be a need for cardiopulmonary bypass during the surgery. Other risks include excessive bleeding or sometimes death if the patient has any other underlying complications. The patient is required to stay in the hospital for five to seven days after the surgery.


Life after pericardiactomy ?

The patients usually recover within six to eight weeks after the surgery. Routine activities can be resumed then. Patients without any other complications return to normalcy.

KIMS is the best cardiac surgery hospitals in India. It has the best heart speacialsts and cardio thoracic surgeons who have had the experience of performing critical pericardiacectomies with lowest complications.



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