(Pericardial Tap; Cardiac Needle Aspiration)
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Reasons for Procedure
- Needle damage to an organ in the chest, like the lung or heart
- Disruption of the heart’s normal rhythm
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Blood tests
- Chest x-rays—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
- Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)—a test that records the heart’s activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
- Echocardiogram—a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart
Talk to your doctor about your medicines (prescription and over the counter). You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
- Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
- You will need to restrict your intake of fluid and food prior to the procedure. The doctor or nurse will give you specific instructions.
- If you have diabetes, ask your doctor how to adjust your medicines for the procedure.
Description of Procedure
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- Clean the area where the needle was inserted daily with lukewarm water and mild soap. Do not scrub the area.
- Avoid vigorous activities until your doctor says that you can resume them. This is especially true for activities that involve the upper body.
- Return to work and regular daily activities as soon as you are ready. Sexual relations may resume as soon as you are able.
- Make and keep all your follow-up appointments.
- Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
- Ask your doctor when to expect the results of your test.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the insertion site
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Cough, difficulty breathing, or chest pain
- Nausea or vomiting
American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/splash
Brockman RG, Ziskind AA. Pericardiocentesis and associated treatment of pericardial effusion. Cardiac Intensive Care. 1998;657-663.
Ferri FF. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby; 2006.
Pericardiocentesis (pericardial tap). Cleveland Clinic Heart Center website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/services/tests/procedures/pericardiocentisis.aspx. Accessed September 16, 2005.
Pericardium and pericarditis. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/What-is-Pericarditis%5FUCM%5F444931%5FArticle.jsp. Accessed September 25, 2005.
Protocol cardiac: pericardiocentesis. Vanderbilt University Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.vanderbilthealth.com/main/healthtopics?topic=Pericarditis. Accessed September 16, 2005.
Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders: Elsevier; 2004.
Spodick DH. Acute cardiac tamponade. New England Journal of Medicine. 2003;349:684-690.
Tibbles CD, Porcaro W. Procedural applications of ultrasound. Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America. 2004;22:797-815.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 11/2012 -
- Update Date: 11/26/2012 -