A case of postoperative pericardial effusion progressing to tamponade

Saturday, July 4th, 2020

Introduction: Pericardial effusions often occur after cardiac surgery, usually asymptomatically. However, large postoperative effusions may cause cardiac tamponade, which is a medical emergency. Case overview: We report a case of a 62-year-old businessman who presented with worsening paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea, orthopnoea, and an episode of near-syncope. Echocardiography revealed evidence of cardiac tamponade, most likely due to recent coronary artery bypass graft and aortic valve replacement surgery. He was treated with pericardiocentesis and ongoing review revealed no recurrence of the effusion. Discussion overview: We discuss the incidence and risk factors for postoperative pericardial effusion and the possibility of tamponade after cardiac surgery. Though rare, recognising tamponade after cardiac surgery is vital and a thorough understanding of the treatment of tamponade is necessary.

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