Medically the evaluation by Gerhard Whitworth, R.N. — written by Stephanie Watson — to update on march 27, 2018

What is the pericardium?

The pericardium is a thin sac that surrounds her heart. The protects and lubricates your heart and keeps that in place within her chest.

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Problems can take place when the pericardium i do not care enflamed or fills through fluid. The ede can damages your heart and affect its function.

The pericardium has actually a few important roles:

It keeps your heart resolved in place within your chest cavity.It avoids your love from extending too much and overfilling through blood.It lubricates your heart to protect against friction v the tissues about it as it beats.It protects your heart from any infections that could spread from adjacent organs like the lungs.

The pericardium has actually two layers:

Fibrous pericardium is the outer layer. It’s do from special connective tissue and also is fastened to your diaphragm. That holds her heart in location in the chest cavity and also protects from infections.Serous pericardium is the inside layer. It’s further divided into two much more layers: the visceral and also parietal layers. The serous pericardium help to lubricate her heart.

In between these two layers is the fluid-filled pericardial cavity. That lubricates the heart and protects that from injury.

Pericardial effusion

Pericardial effusion is the buildup of too lot fluid between the pericardium and your heart. This can happen from damages or an illness in the pericardium. Liquid can additionally build increase if yes sir bleeding in her pericardium after ~ an injury.

Possible causes of pericardial effusion include:

infectionsrecent heart surgerycancer that has actually spread to your pericardiumkidney failure

Symptoms of pericardial effusion include:

chest push or painshortness that breathdifficulty breathing once you lied downnauseaa emotion of fullness in your chesttrouble swallowing

The excess liquid from pericardial effusion can cause intense press on her heart and also damage it.

Pericardial cyst

A pericardial cyst is a noncancerous, fluid-filled expansion in the pericardium. This kind of cyst is an extremely rare, affecting just 1 in 100,000 people.

Most people who have pericardial cysts space born through them, however they often aren’t diagnosed until they reach their 20s or 30s.

Pericardial cysts space usually discovered during a chest X-ray that’s done for an additional reason since these cysts don’t cause symptoms on their own.

Symptoms might only appear when the cyst presses on surrounding organs or structures, and can include:

pain in your ideal shoulder that radiates to your left shouldershortness the breatha feeling of fullness in your chest

Pericardial cysts aren’t dangerous themselves. However, if they press on your lungs or various other structures in her chest, castle can cause complications choose inflammation or serious bleeding. Rarely, a pericardial cyst deserve to lead to heart failure.

Other problems with the pericardium

A couple of other conditions and complications deserve to also influence the pericardium.


Pericarditis is swelling of the pericardium. Feasible causes include:

heart attackheart surgeryinjuries, such as from a auto accidentkidney failuremedications such together phenytoin (Dilantin), warfarin (Coumadin), and procainamide

Acute pericarditis beginning suddenly and also lasts just a few weeks. Chronic pericarditis develops more slowly and can critical longer.

Usually pericarditis is mild and also heals end time. Occasionally it will boost with plenty of rest. An ext severe pericarditis might need to it is in treated with medication or surgery to protect against it indigenous damaging her heart.

Cardiac tamponade

Cardiac tamponade is a problem that’s brought about by a buildup that fluid, blood, gas, or a tumor in your pericardial cavity. This buildup places pressure on her heart, which avoids it from filling and also emptying properly.

Cardiac tamponade is not the exact same as pericardial effusion, despite it deserve to be a complication of liquid buildup indigenous pericardial effusion.

One authorize of cardiac tamponade is a big drop in blood pressure. Cardiac tamponade is a clinical emergency. It have the right to be life threaten if it isn’t treated quickly.

The pericardium anchors and also protects her heart and permits it to move easily within her chest. When fluid or various other substances develop up in the pericardium, they have the right to put push on her heart and influence its capability to pump blood.

Some problems that affect the pericardium aren’t serious and also will boost on their own. Others can damages your heart and also are considered medical emergencies.

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If you have actually symptoms such as chest pain, shortness the breath, and also a emotion of fullness in her chest, watch your doctor right away. They have the right to perform test to discover the cause of the problem and advise you around treatments to prevent heart damage.