December 1956

Tuberculous Pericarditis

Author Affiliations


From the Medical Service of the Pratt Diagnostic Clinic, New England Center Hospital, and the Department of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1956;98(6):737-749. doi:10.1001/archinte.1956.00250300055008

The white cold virgin snow upon my heart Abates the ardour of my liver. The Tempest, Act 4, Scene I.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Jeremiah, 17:9.

Sir William Gull, on demonstrating tuberculous pericarditis to a physician who had missed the diagnosis, concluded his remarks with "Never mind; if you had detected it, you might have treated it."1 Times have changed; the detection of this disease is not met with quite the same sense of frustration. However, despite an expanding diagnostic and therapeutic arsenal which has modified the outlook, this remains a serious and not uncommon condition.

The natural history of tuberculosis of the pericardium, treated or untreated, may follow two pathways. This is well illustrated by two cases recently seen at the New England Center Hospital.

Report of Cases 

Case 1.  —A 69-year-old white man was admitted on Oct. 25, 1954, with a

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