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J Pediatr Surg. 1996 Jan;31(1):197-9; discussion 199-200.

Cardiac tamponade in the pediatric oncology population: treatment by percutaneous catheter drainage.

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Department of Surgery (Pediatric Surgery), Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.



The treatment of pericardial effusion resulting in cardiac tamponade has undergone an evolution in recent years, with the use of less invasive drainage methods in selected cases. To determine optimal therapy for pediatric oncology patients with pericardial effusion and tamponade, the authors reviewed their institutional experience with percutaneous catheter drainage.


Patient records and operative reports were reviewed, and nine patients were identified who met clinical and echocardiographic criteria of cardiac tamponade and were treated with percutaneous pericardial catheter drainage.


The median age at time of diagnosis was 14 years (range, 5 months to 19 years), and the male:female ratio was 7:3. Underlying malignancies included acute myeloblastic leukemia in three, acute lymphoblastic leukemia in one, and Hodgkin's disease, B-cell lymphoma, medulloblastoma, desmoplastic small round cell tumor, and rhabdomyosarcoma in one each. EIght patients (89%) were receiving granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF) during the period when tamponade developed. All patients had a large or moderate-to-large pericardial effusion and right ventricular collapse with hemodynamic compromise on echocardiography, and two patients (22%) also had pericardial thickening. In nine patients, percutaneous catheter drainage was performed intraoperatively and under fluoroscopic or echocardiographic guidance. A median of 300 mL (range, 82 to 500 mL) of fluid was removed from the pericardial sac during the initial drainage, and cytology was positive in one (6%). Complete echocardiographic resolution was observed in eight patients (89%); a small posterior component persisted in one patient but was not significant hemodynamically. The catheters remained in place for a median of 5 days (range, 1 to 35 days) while repeat aspirations were performed. Tamponade resolved in all patients, and one died of overwhelming systemic sepsis. The survival period was 10 to 22 months, and tamponade or the drainage procedure did not contribute to death. Four patients remain alive after 4 month to 7 years of follow-up.


Cardiac tamponade was effectively treated in all patients and did not recur with percutaneous catheter drainage alone. THere was no evidence of pericardial loculation or infection despite pancytopenia being prevalent with underlying illness and chemotherapy. Percutaneous catheter drainage is an effective treatment for pediatric oncology patients with pericardial tamponade. Because of its simplicity in comparison to move invasive techniques, initial treatment with percutaneous drainage should be considered in this patient population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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