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J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2012 Jan;5(1):72-5. doi: 10.4103/0974-2700.93118.

The role of bedside ultrasound in the diagnosis of pericardial effusion and cardiac tamponade.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Los Angeles County, University of Southern California Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA,, USA.


This review article discusses two clinical cases of patients presenting to the emergency department with pericardial effusions. The role of bedside ultrasound in the detection of pericardial effusions is investigated, with special attention to the specific ultrasound features of cardiac tamponade. Through this review, clinicians caring for patients with pericardial effusions will learn to rapidly diagnose this condition directly at the bedside. Clinicians will also learn to differentiate between simple pericardial effusions in contrast to more complicated effusions causing cardiac tamponade. Indications for emergency pericardiocentesis are covered, so that clinicians can rapidly determine which group of patients will benefit from an emergency procedure to drain the effusion.


Cardiac tamponade; echocardiography; pericardial effusion; pericardiocentesis; ultrasound

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