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Aviat Space Environ Med. 1999 Mar;70(3 Pt 2):A54-62.

The human pericardium in vibroacoustic disease.

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Occupational Medicine Research Center, Lisbon, Portugal.



One of the main features of vibroacoustic disease (VAD) is the proliferation of the extra-cellular matrix which induces cardiovascular morphological and dynamic changes, and has been evaluated through echo-Doppler. While all subjects exposed to large pressure amplitude (> or =90 dB SPL) and low frequency (< or =500 Hz) (LPALF) for at least 15 yr have thickening of some cardiac structure, most frequently the pericardium, no significant diastolic changes accompany these observations. Echocardiography has become the diagnostic method of choice for the VAD. However, there have been no studies relating the echo-images of pericardial thickening to gross anatomy.


We present the histology and ultrastructure of the pericardia of four patients who underwent cardiac surgery.


The most important findings concern the real thickening of the pericardium (values: 1.11, 1.35, 2.19, and 2.33 mm vs. norm: < or = 0.5 mm), the dynamic arrangements of mesothelial cells in the serosa layer, and the plasticity of the cells found among the multifascicular waveform collagen fibers. We found that the fibrosa of VAD patients has three layers: sandwiched between two thickened layers of normal fibrosa there is a loose tissue layer with vascular, nervous, and adipose structures.


These features may partially explain why no important diastolic changes are observed in VAD patients in spite of the pericardium thickening.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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