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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2013 Dec;44(6):1023-8; discussion 1028. doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezt138. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Constrictive pericarditis: risks, aetiologies and outcomes after total pericardiectomy: 24 years of experience.

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Department of Cardiac Surgery, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.



Constrictive pericarditis is the result of a spectrum of primary cardiac and non-cardiac conditions. Few data exist on the preoperative risk specific to survival after pericardiectomy. This study was designed to compare the association of aetiology of constrictive pericarditis and other clinical variables, with long-term survival after total pericardiectomy.


A total of 89 patients were studied, who underwent pericardiectomy for constrictive pericarditis at a single surgical centre between 1988 and 2012. Constrictive pericarditis was confirmed by the surgical report. Demographic, pre-, intra- and postoperative data and long-term outcome were investigated. Survival was assessed by the Kaplan-Meier method.


Aetiology of constrictive pericarditis was idiopathic in 49 patients (55%), prior cardiac surgery in 21 patients (23.6%), tuberculosis in 5 patients (5.6%), radiation treatment in 5 (5.6%), uraemia in 4 (4.5%), inflammation in 3 (3.5%) myocardial infarction in 2 (2.2%), and perioperative mortality was 7%. Seventy-five percent of patients were in New York Heart Association (NYHA) class III-IV, which status significantly improved in long-term survivors (95% in NYHA I-II). Idiopathic constrictive pericarditis had the best prognosis (5-year Kaplan-Meier survival: 81%) followed by post-surgical (50%) and post-radiation pericarditis (no survivors after 5 years). Tuberculosis, myocardial infarction and uraemia have survival rates comparable with idiopathic aetiology. In addition, preoperative NYHA class IV was associated with significantly lower long-term survival.


Long-term survival after pericardiectomy for constrictive pericarditis is related to underlying aetiology and overall clinical condition. The relatively good survival with idiopathic constrictive pericarditis emphasizes the safety of pericardiectomy in this subgroup.


Constrictive/complications/surgery; Pericardiectomy; Pericarditis; Retrospective Studies; Treatment outcome

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