surgical puncture into the pericardial space and aspiration of fluid for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes. Therapeutically, the procedure is used as an emergency measure to relieve life-threatening cardiac tamponade. Other clinical situations in which it may be done include pericardial effusion, traumatic perforation or rupture of the myocardium, and effusion secondary to a tumor or chest injury. Since serious dysrhythmias can develop, cardiac monitoring is necessary throughout the procedure. Blood pressure, pulse, and heart rhythm also are monitored during it and for 24 hours afterwards. Serious and life-threatening immediate complications are possible, such as perforation of a ventricle, laceration of a coronary artery, aspiration of blood from a heart chamber, or air embolism. Infection and hydropneumothorax can develop later.


Needle or catheter drainage of the pericardium.
[peri- + G. kardia, heart, + kentēsis, puncture]



Needle drainage of the pericardium, usually accompanied by placement of an indwelling catheter for continuing drainage.


surgical puncture of the pericardial cavity with aspiration of fluid, usually for the purpose of obtaining fluid for cytological examination or to relieve cardiac tamponade.