Surgical management of effusive pericardial disease. Influence of extent of pericardial resection on clinical course

J. M. Piehler, J. R. Pluth, H. V. Schaff, G. K. Danielson, T. A. Orszulak, F. J. Puga

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140 Scopus citations


Surgical drainage for effusive pericardial disease is usually accompanied by pericardial resection to obtain tissue for analysis and to lessen the chance of recurrent effusion or late constriction. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between the extent of resection and the development of late complications. From 1960 through 1983, 145 patients with pure pericardial effusive disease underwent operative drainage. The effusions were malignant in 72 patients (49.7%) and benign in 73 (50.3%). The patients were divided into three groups according to the extent of resection: complete in 72 patients (49.7%), partial in 36 (24.8%), and window in 37 (25.5%). The 30 day mortality was 19.4% for patients with malignant effusions and 5.5% for those with benign effusions (p < 0.05). All survivors had immediate improvement in symptoms. The actuarial 1 year survival rate was 23.4% (mean 4.2 months) for patients with malignant disease and 85.6% for patients with idiopathic effusions (p < 0.001). Survival was not influenced by the extent of resection. Fifteen patients (10.3%) had late constriction or recurrent effusion. Six of these required reoperation, all after having a window procedure. Actuarial probability of reoperation or late complication was greater with window procedures than other resections, both for all patients (p = 0.0001) and for those with benign disease (p = 0.0001). Transthoracic complete pericardiectomy is the procedure of choice for effusive pericardial disease. Subxiphoid drainage has immediate advantages for selected patients but has a statistically greater chance of late complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-516
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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