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Chest. 2002 Feb;121(2):495-9.

Role of biochemical tests in the diagnosis of large pericardial effusions.

Author information

  • 1Department of Chemical Pathology, University of Stellenbosch and Tygerberg Hospital, Tygerberg, South Africa. treades@iafrica.com

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVES:

To determine the biochemical characteristics of large pericardial effusions in various disease states, and to assess their utility as diagnostic tools.

SETTING:

An academic university hospital in the Western Cape, South Africa.

DESIGN:

Consecutive, prospective case series.

PATIENTS:

One hundred ten hospital patients > 12 years old, who presented to the echocardiography department with large pericardial effusions, and 12 control subjects who underwent open-heart surgery (coronary artery bypass graft or aortic valve replacement).

MEASUREMENTS:

Fluid was sent for examination of biochemistry, adenosine deaminase, microbiology, hematology, and cytology. The etiology of each pericardial fluid sample was established using predetermined criteria.

RESULTS:

The biochemistry of pericardial exudates differed significantly from pericardial transudates. Light' s criteria (whereby an exudate is defined as having one or more of the following: pleural fluid/serum protein ratio > 0.5; pleural fluid/serum lactate dehydrogenase [LDH] ratio > 0.6; and/or pleural fluid LDH level > 200 U/L) were applied to pericardial fluids and demonstrated to be the most reliable diagnostic tool for identifying pericardial exudates. The corresponding sensitivity was 98%.

CONCLUSION:

Although laboratory tests are a useful guideline when assessing the etiology and pathophysiology of pericardial effusions, the majority of large, clinically significant pericardial effusions result from exudative causes.

PMID:
11834663
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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