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Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2005 May 27;130(21):1314-7.

[Rare cause of right heart failure: two cases].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Poliklinik und Klinik f├╝r Allgemeine Innere Medizin, Universit├Ątsspital Bern, Schweiz.



Two asylum seekers (patient A, 30 year old man from Mongolia; patient B, 18 year old woman from the Sudan) were referred to our outpatient clinic because of acute and chronic deterioration of their general condition and shortness of breath. Both patients presented with a clear clinical picture of systemic venous hypertension and moderate pulmonary congestion. Patient B had a paradoxical pulse compatible to cardiac tamponade.


In patient A, the chest radiogram revealed a markedly enlarged cardiac silhouette and an infiltrate in the upper left lobe of the lung. The echocardiogram confirmed a pericardial effusion causing a cardiac tamponade. A therapeutic and diagnostic pericardiocentesis was performed immediately. In patient B, the chest radiogram revealed a thickened and calcified pericardium and a left-sided pleural effusion. The pleural fluid revealed a lymphocyte-predominant exudate. In both patients the tuberculin skin test was positive.


In both patients we initiated an antituberculous therapy (four-drug therapy with isoniazid, rifampin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol; in patient A in addition corticosteroids). In patient A the PCR for Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex from pericardial fluid was positive. In patient B we started the antibiotic treatment despite negative microbiological studies because of the high degree of suspicion in a person at high risk. Due to the impaired ventricular filling, patient B required additional pericardectomy. After completion of treatment, both patients have been doing well.


Despite a clear reduction in the incidence of tuberculous pericarditis in Europe this multifaceted condition should still be of concern in patients at high risk as e. g. immigrants from areas with a high tuberculosis prevalence. Early diagnosis and adequate treatment are required for prevention of severe complications and disabling constrictive pericarditis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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