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Circulation. 1981 Sep;64(3):633-40.

Cardiac tamponade in medical patients.


We reviewed the cases of 56 medical patients wih cardiac tamponade who were treated at the University of Cincinnati. A paradoxic arterial pulse was critical in the diagnosis because most patients did not have a small quiet heart, and blood pressure was often well maintained. Fifty-two of 55 patients had enlarged cardiac silhouette by chest radiogram; heart sounds were diminished in 19 patients; arterial systolic pressure was greater than or equal to 100 mm Hg in 35, and arterial pulse pressure was greater than or equal to 40 mm Hg in 27. Echocardiograms in 23 patients showed abnormally increased right ventricular dimensions and decreased left ventricular dimensions during inspiration, except in one patient with left ventricular dysfunction. The causes of cardiac tamponade were metastatic tumor in 18 patients, idiopathic pericarditis in eight and uremia in five; five cases of tamponade occurred after heparin administration in acute cardiac infarction. Myxedema and dissecting aneurysm each caused tamponade in two patients. Pericardiocentesis relieved tamponade initially in 40 of 46 patients; however, two suffered fatal complications. Pericardial resection was done in 18, including 12 of these 46.

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