Pericardiocentesis is a procedure done to remove fluid that has built up in the sac around the heart (pericardium). It’s done using a needle and small catheter to drain excess fluid. This procedure is also done to diagnose the cause of the extra fluid. However the cause of fluid buildup can sometimes be unknown.

What to Expect

During pericardiocentesis, a doctor inserts a needle through the chest wall and into the tissue around the heart. Local anasthesia is given to the puncture site for pain relief. Should you require it, sedative medication may be given as well. Once the needle is inside the pericardium, the doctor inserts a long, thin tube called a catheter, which is used to drain excess fluid. The catheter may either come right out after the procedure, or it may stay in place for several hours or overnight. This is to make sure all the fluid has drained, and to prevent fluid from building up again.

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