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Br J Radiol. 2011 Dec;84 Spec No 3:S324-37. doi: 10.1259/bjr/16168253.

Pericardial disease--anatomy and function.

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  • 1Department of Cardiothoracic Radiology, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, Tremona Road, Southampton, UK.


Imaging of patients with suspected or known pericardial disease remains challenging. Echocardiography is the first-line investigation for pericardial disease but it has specific limitations in terms of its abilities to visualise the pericardium fully and to identify extracardiac pathology. Cardiac cross-sectional imaging by both MRI and CT has developed significantly and now has an important role in the investigation of pericardial disease. This article examines the appearances of both healthy and diseased pericardium using CT and MRI. The typical imaging findings across a wide range of conditions are illustrated and the roles of CT and MRI are reviewed. The relative merits and weaknesses of each modality are explored and the specific functional techniques that are available are introduced.

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