What happens if fluid builds up in the pericardial sac?

Pericardial effusion is the buildup of extra fluid in the space around the heart. If too much fluid builds up, it can put pressure on the heart. This can prevent it from pumping normally. A fibrous sac called the pericardium surrounds the heart.

What causes fluid in the sac around the heart?

Pericardial effusion can result from inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis) after an illness or injury. In some settings, large effusions may be caused by certain cancers. A blockage of pericardial fluids or a collection of blood within the pericardium also can lead to this condition.

How do I get rid of fluid around my heart?

During pericardiocentesis, a doctor inserts a needle through the chest wall and into the tissue around the heart. Once the needle is inside the pericardium, the doctor inserts a long, thin tube called a catheter. The doctor uses the catheter to drain excess fluid. The catheter may come right out after the procedure.

Is pericardial effusion life threatening?

Pericardial effusion is a buildup of fluid in the space around the heart. It can happen for a wide range of reasons, including infections, injuries or other medical conditions. If the buildup is severe or happens quickly, it can compress your heart and cause cardiac tamponade, a life-threatening medical emergency.

What are the symptoms of an effusion of the pericardial sac?

You might be more likely to have symptoms from whatever is causing the pericardial effusion. For example, you might have fever if you have an infection of the pericardial sac. When effusion is more severe, you may have symptoms such as: Chest pain or discomfort.

How much fluid is in the pericardial sac?

The pericardial sac typically contains 10–50 milliliters of fluid, but when pericardial effusion develops, the fluid quantity can increase and cause a variety of reactions throughout the body. Whether or not a person presents with symptoms often depends on how rapidly the fluid accumulates, rather than on the amount of fluid.

What happens when pericardial fluid builds up?

When there is a slower accumulation of pericardial fluid over time, the sac around the heart slowly enlarges to accommodate the fluid – something it cannot do if there is a sudden increase. Effusions involving blood are often emergencies, because the blood may leak into the sac at high pressure.

What are the symptoms of fluid around the heart?

Fluid around heart spaces does not always cause symptoms, especially in the early stages, because the pericardium can stretch. However, when fluid does build up, it puts pressure on nearby organs and parts of the body, including the lungs, stomach, nerves, and heart. The resulting symptoms include: chest pain that gets worse when people lie flat