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Posts Tagged ‘systolic pericarail effusion’

Detection of  pericardial effusion was  the earliest  clinical application of echocardiography. Diagnosing  large effusions is a non issue .Assessing  minimal effusions (Systolic vs diastolic echo free space) and associated  thickened pericardium is tough even after 50 years of echocardiography.

Mainly , we are limited by the resolution power of echo. Further , lack of echocardiographic landmark for visceral  layer of pericardium (It is same as epicardium !) makes  diagnosis of  thickened pericardium a real tough exercise.It is said , normal pericardium is less than 4mm .

Where to measure it ?  how to measure is still not clear.

Why differentiating  minimal  pericardial effusion from  thickened pericardium  is important ?

  • Mild  pericardial effusion is  largely a benign finding in vast majority.
  • But , even a minimally thickened pericardium  due to active inflammation  can be significant.
  • Sticky pericardial effusion predispose to thickening and constriction.
  • Early recognition of this dreaded pericardial pathology is essential to interrupt the inflammatory process.
  • In CRF (With or without dialysis) even a  minimal pericardial  effusion can denote a dismal outcome .

Here is a link to Horowitz classification of mild  pericardial  effusion ...

http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/50/2/239

It could help us understand, How thickened pericardium presents in echo. Of course, CT and MRI now have increased sensitivity for diagnosing  pericardial thickening.

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