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Pericardial aspiration

PERICARDIOCENTESIS

Pericardial aspiration is a procedure where fluid is drained from around the heart to restore normal heart function

About

Pericardial aspiration, also known as pericardiocentesis or a pericardial tap, removes potentially life-threatening fluid that can build up in the pericardium (the sac surrounding the heart). This fluid may be tested for signs of infection or disease, including cancer. 

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    In a non-emergency setting, pericardial aspiration is done in a specialised cardiac facility known as a catheterisation laboratory. You'll lie down on a table for the procedure and may be given a sedative to help you relax. Your consultant will inject local anaesthetic under your ribs to numb the area over your heart. Next, they'll insert a needle under your ribs into the pericardial sac. They may use an X-ray or echocardiogram to help see inside your chest as they guide the needle into position, before draining the fluid through a thin flexible tube (catheter). The procedure usually takes less than an hour.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you have. You may have a blood test, chest X-ray or other heart scan before the procedure to look for the cause of the excess fluid or check your heart rhythm. They may ask you to fast or avoid certain medications beforehand. Like all procedures, there may be some risks or side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    You'll be monitored in hospital as you recover after the procedure. If the pericardial fluid was tested for signs of infection, blood or disease, your consultant will speak to you about the results. They will let you know if any further tests or treatment is needed. They'll also let you know when you can return home and get back to your usual routine.
Consultant in theatres

Our consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion. 

Our locations

  • London Bridge Hospital Facility

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments and Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773
    Switchboard 020 7407 3100

  • facility-HSC-flag-hero-582x582

    The Harley Street Clinic

    35 Weymouth Street

    London

    W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7034 8181
    Enquiries 020 3131 7962

  • Wellington-south-hero-facility-582-582

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 0207 483 5148
    Enquiries 020 3131 7478

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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