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Pericardial Windows: The Limited Diagnostic Value of Non-Targeted Pericardial Biopsy

Arq Bras Cardiol. 2023 Oct;120(10):e20230082. doi: 10.36660/abc.20230082.


BACKGROUND: Pericardial window, in addition to promoting pericardial drainage, can also provide samples of the pericardium for anatomopathological examination. However, such biopsies’ contribution to clarifying the etiology of pericardial effusion has been debated.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the diagnostic value of non-targeted pericardial biopsy obtained from pericardial window procedures.

METHODS: Data from 80 patients who had undergone parietal pericardial biopsies from 2011 to 2020 were retrospectively reviewed. Statistical significance was considered if p < 0.05.

RESULTS: Fifty patients were male (62.5%,) and 30 were female (37.5%). The median age was 52 years (interquartile range: 29 to 59) and 49 years (interquartile range: 38 to 65), respectively (p = 0.724). The suspected etiology of pericardial effusion was neoplastic in 31.3%, unclear in 25%, tuberculosis in 15%, autoimmune in 12.5%, edemagenic syndrome in 7.5%, and other miscellaneous conditions in 8.8%. The most frequent approach for pericardial drainage and biopsy was subxiphoid (74%), followed by video-assisted thoracoscopy (22%). Overall, in 78.8% of the biopsies, the histopathologic findings were compatible with nonspecific inflammation, and only 13.7% of all biopsies yielded a conclusive histopathological diagnostic. Those suffering from cancer and pericardial effusion had a higher proportion of conclusive histopathologic findings (32% had pericardial neoplastic infiltration). The hospital mortality rate was 27.5%, and 54.5% of the patients who died in the hospital had cancer. No deaths were attributed to cardiac tamponade or the drainage procedure.

CONCLUSION: Our results showed that pericardial window is a safe procedure, but it had little value to clarify the pericardial effusion etiology and no impact on the planned therapy for the primary diagnosis besides the cardiac decompression.

PMID:37851724 | DOI:10.36660/abc.20230082

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