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December 1961

Acute Benign Pericarditis: Virologic Study of 34 Patients

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Virus Diseases, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington 12, D.C.; Resident in Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Teaching Fellow in Neurology, Harvard Medical School, formerly Assistant Chief, Department of Virus Diseases, WRAIR (Dr. Johnson); Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, formerly Chief, Diagnostic Section, Department of Virus Diseases, WRAIR (Dr. Portnoy); Research Associate, General Virology Laboratory, Division of Biologic Standards, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., formerly of the Department of Virus Diseases and Veterans Administration Central Laboratory for Clinical Pathology, WRAIR (Miss Rogers); Chief, Department of Virus Diseases, WRAIR (Dr. Buescher).

Arch Intern Med. 1961;108(6):823-832. doi:10.1001/archinte.1961.03620120007002

Introduction  Exposure to cold was postulated as the cause of acute benign pericarditis by Hodges,* who described the syndrome in 1854.1 Nearly a century later Christian, reviewing the still obscure cause of this disease, suggested it was of viral etiology.2 Subsequent studies have tended to support this thesis by implicating many different viruses, but only infectious mononucleosis and Coxsackie virus infections have been repeatedly associated with the syndrome.Acute benign pericarditis is often observed during epidemics of pleurodynia, and its association with Coxsackie virus infections in this specific circumstance is well recognized.3-6 However, the relative importance of these and other viruses in the etiology of pericarditis at other times remains uncertain. It is the purpose of this report to describe the virologic investigation of 34 patients with sporadic acute benign pericarditis and to provide the clinician with a contemporary perspective into the etiology of this syndrome.


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