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  • • Therapeutic: Impending cardiac tamponade.

    • Diagnostic.

    • • Infectious pericarditis.

      • Rule out an oncologic process.

    • Compromise in the patient’s hemodynamic status.




  • • A blood dyscrasia in which a patient may have a significant bleeding complication.

    • A cutaneous infection in the area of the most feasible sights for pericardiocentesis.

    • A significantly elevated diaphragm, a grossly enlarged liver, or profound ascites, which all change the standard landmarks of inserting the pericardiocentesis needle in the subxiphoid area.

    • Under such circumstances, use the intercostal approach.


  • • Povidone-iodine or equivalent sterilization substrate to cleanse the subxiphoid area.

    • 1% or 2% lidocaine or xylocaine.

    • 25-gauge, 1.5-inch-long needle.

    • 16- or 18-gauge needle, ≥ 1.5 inch.

    • Floppy tip wire that can be introduced through the needle.

    • Pigtail catheter with multiple side holes as well as an end hole.

    • Scalpel.

    • 3-way stopcock.

    • 30-mL or 60-mL syringe and suture kit.

    • ECG monitor, pulse oximeter, and blood pressure cuff.


  • • Infection and bleeding can be minimized with proper technique.

    • Pneumothorax (unusual).

    • Laceration of the liver (unusual).

    • Coronary injury (unusual).

    • Cardiac perforation (unusual).


  • • Ideally, a patient should be continuously monitored with echocardiography and fluoroscopy in an interventional radiology or cardiac catheterization laboratory.

    • Frequently, this is not an option, and bedside pericardiocentesis without portable fluoroscopy is performed. In this circumstance, the patient should be sedated.

    • Respiratory and hemodynamic status should be monitored by assistants, so that the physician can concentrate on performing the pericardiocentesis.


  • • Prepare and drape the subxiphoid area in the usual sterile fashion.

    • If the subxiphoid approach might be difficult (due to an unusually located heart or elevated diaphragm), consider preparing the left sternal border.

    • All equipment should be readily available and an assistant should be available to help with manipulation of needles, wires, and catheters.


  • • Supine position, with 10–30 degrees of reverse Trendelenburg.

    • Occasionally, the partially sitting position may be required or beneficial.

    • • Makes an orthopneic patient more comfortable.

      • May allow for most of the pericardial fluid to position inferiorly or closer to the drainage site.


  • • Prepare the subxiphoid area and left sternal border.

    • Administer 1% or 2% lidocaine approximately 0.5–1 cm below the left costoxiphoid angle using a 25- or 27-gauge 1.5-inch-long needle.

    • • Infiltration of the lidocaine should be superficial as well as deep, pushing the needle superiorly, posteriorly, and leftward.

      • Withdraw fluid each time the needle is passed deeper within the skin and subcutaneous tissues.

    • To allow for easier passage of the needle, precut the skin with the scalpel before introducing the 16- or 18-gauge 1.5-inch to 2.5-inch needle.

    • Insert the larger needle at an approximate 30–45-degree angle with the abdomen with constant negative pressure on the syringe.

    • Monitor ECG very carefully for evidence of dysrhythmias or ST segment changes (evidence ...

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