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Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2013 Dec;31(4):314-9. doi: 10.12932/AP0305.31.4.2013.

Pericardial fluid profiles of pericardial effusion in systemic sclerosis patients.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand.



Cardiac involvement is one of clinical presentations in systemic sclerosis (SSc). The pericardial fluid profile and the causes of pericardial effusion were our focus.


To demonstrate the characteristics and causes of pericardial effusion in SSc.


A descriptive retrospective study was performed on SSc patients with symptomatic pericardial effusion at Srinagarind Hospital, Khon Kaen University, Thailand, between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2010. We excluded pericardial fluid detected by screening echocardiography.


Thirty medical records of SSc patients with pericardial effusion were reviewed. The respective mean age and median duration of disease at the time of effusion detection was 52.2±10.8 years and 11.4 months (IQR 0.03-59.1). The female to male ratio was 3.3:1. The most common signs and symptoms included tachycardia (65%) and right-sided heart failure (30%). One patient was diagnosed with cardiac tamponade due to tuberculous pericarditis. Pericardiocentesis and fluid analysis were performed in 9 patients, all of whom had pericardial fluid lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) <200 U/L and a fluid-serum LDH ratio <0.6. Most of the cases (87.5%) had a fluid-serum total protein ratio <0.5. The median white blood cell (WBC) count was 10 cell/mm3 (IQR 6-830), one-third of which was predominated by mononuclear cells. The pericardial biopsy in 8 patients revealed 4 pericardial fibrosis, 2 non-specific inflammation and 2 granuloma.


The pericardial fluid profile for SSc was similar to the exudative profile of pleural fluid. Cardiac tamponade was rare. Most pathological findings of pericardial tissue were associated with fibrosis related to the disease itself.

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