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Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2000 Apr;12(2):119-29.

Malignancies involving the pericardium.

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Department of Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgery, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Malignancies rarely arise from the pericardium. Mesothelioma, the most common of these, is usually unresectable and almost always incurable. Malignancies may secondarily involve the pericardium by direct extension. Carcinoma of the lung and malignant thymoma with limited direct invasion of the pericardium both can undergo complete and potentially curative resections, but adjuvant therapy is usually indicated. More frequently, malignancies involve the pericardium by a process of retrograde lymphangitic spread or hematogenous dissemination. These patients present with a symptomatic pericardial effusion and occasionally pericardial tamponade. Subxiphoid pericardiostomy and drainage is a safe procedure that provides effective and durable symptomatic relief in these terminally ill patients. More aggressive open procedures should be reserved for loculated or recurrent pericardial effusions.

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