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Pediatr Radiol. 1992;22(7):548-51.

Pericardial effusion and its relationship to cardiac disease in children with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, State University of New York, Health Science Center at Brooklyn, Downstate Medical Center.


Over 200 children with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) have been followed at our institution. We retrospectively evaluated 45 children from the above group. 26 of the 45 children had a pericardial effusion documented at echocardiography and/or at post-mortem examination. This report describes the association of pericardial effusion, myocarditis, and pericarditis in children with AIDS and the implications for imaging. Half of the children with a pericardial effusion had a normal cardiac silhouette on chest radiography. 18 children with a pericardial effusion, had associated cardiac abnormalities. These abnormalities were ventricular dilatation and/or hypertrophy, myocarditis, or pericarditis. The presence of pericardial effusion also correlated highly with pleural effusion and ascites. The presence of a pleural effusion and a pericardial effusion was almost exclusively seen in the children with cardiac abnormalities. Pericardial effusion and cardiac disease should not only be suspected in any child with radiographic signs of cardiomegaly, but be strongly suspected in any child with pleural effusions or ascites, even with a normal cardiac silhouette, especially if they are not responding to conventional medical therapy and their respiratory condition is not improving.

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