PURULENT pericarditis is an uncommon disorder that often escapes clinical detection despite its lifethreatening nature.1 Appropriate management requires vigorous antimicrobial therapy and, in most cases, surgical drainage. Identification of the responsible pathogen is of paramount importance. We report a patient with pericardial tamponade who was found to have primary meningococcal pericarditis. The diagnosis was suggested by the Gram stain of the pericardial fluid, but, because the patient had recently been given antibiotics, cultures were negative. A new technique, counter-current immunoelectrophoresis (CIE), was used to confirm the etiologic diagnosis. This is, to our knowledge, the first time CIE has been used successfully in the diagnosis of purulent pericarditis.
Report of a Case
A 49-year-old mother of four was in excellent health until 10:45 AM on Aug 1, 1974, when she experienced an abrupt rigor followed promptly by fever and diffuse myalgia. She remained bedridden for 48 hours, with fever, sweats,
Simon HB, Tarr PI, Hutter AM, Erdmann AJ. Primary Meningococcal Pericarditis: Diagnosis by Counter-Current Immunoelectrophoresis. JAMA. 1976;235(3):278–280. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260290036024
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