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July 1974

Successful Treatment of Radiation Pericarditis With Corticosteroids

Author Affiliations


From the divisions of cardiology (Dr. Keelan) and oncology (Dr. Rudders), Department of Medicine, The Medical College of Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee County General Hospital, Milwaukee. Dr. Rudders is now with Tufts-New England Medical Center Hospital, Boston.

Arch Intern Med. 1974;134(1):145-147. doi:10.1001/archinte.1974.00320190147025

The widespread use of supervoltage radiotherapy in the treatment of malignant tumors of the thorax, particularly Hodgkin disease, has led to an increasing number of reports of postirradiation cardiac complications.1-8 Pericarditis is the most common complication, although specific myocardial changes have also been reported.1,9,10 The course of pericarditis has frequently been disastrous, with acute tamponade, chronic effusion, and chronic constriction, all being important and occasionally fatal sequelae.9,11 For this reason, some authors have recommended early aggressive surgical management, including thoracotomy and pericardectomy.11 The efficacy of therapy with corticosteroids in the treatment of postirradiation pericarditis with effusion has received little emphasis in the literature. We feel it important, therefore, to present the following successfully treated patient.

Patient Summary  A 47-year-old widowed housewife had a biopsy examination of the cervical lymph node done on Jan 28, 1971 that showed Hodgkin disease, nodular sclerosis type (Fig 1). Bilateral adenopathy was also noted

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