April 1978

Echocardiographic Interpretation of Pericardial Effusion

Author Affiliations

From the Section of Cardiology, VA Hospital, Hines, Ill; and the Department of Medicine, Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill.

Arch Intern Med. 1978;138(4):622-625. doi:10.1001/archinte.1978.03630280084026

Echocardiography has proved to be quite useful in the detection of pericardial effusion. As little as 15 ml of fluid within the pericardial space can be detected. Specific signs of pericardial effusion, such as electrical alternans and paradoxical pulse, have become better understood by echocardiographic study. Yet, with all the benefits of echocardiography, the detection of pericardial effusion still may be quite difficult if careful attention is not given to technique. False-positive diagnosis of anterior pericardial effusion can be seen with epicardial fat pad, pericardial cyst, or foramen of Morgagni hernia. False-positive posterior pericardial effusion can be seen in large left pleural effusion, calcified mitral anulus, or excessively medial transducer angulation. New "switched-gain" circuits have helped detection of pericardial effusion by enhancement of pericardial echoes.

(Arch Intern Med 138:622-625, 1978)