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December 1963

Pericardial Biopsy

Author Affiliations


Assistant Attending Physician, Assistant Cardiologist (Dr. Schwartz); Resident in Surgery (Dr. Nay); Attending Surgeon, Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons (Dr. Fitzpatrick).; From the medical and surgical services, St. Luke's Hospital.

Arch Intern Med. 1963;112(6):917-923. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03860060141015

A specific diagnosis is often difficult to establish in a given case of pericarditis, even when fluid is available for study. In 1956, Proudfit and Effler1 reported a simple method of performing pericardial biopsy which provides adequate amounts of tissue for bacteriologic and histologic study. Safe and effective pericardial drainage can be accomplished by the same procedure.

Neither the indications for performance of pericardial biopsy nor its usefulness has been clearly defined. It is the purpose of this report to review our experience with biopsy of the pericardium and to suggest those clinical circumstances in which the procedure may offer assistance and those in which significant information is less likely to be obtained.

Methods  The pericardium may be biopsied by either a transpleural or an extrapleural approach. The extrapleural method is performed under local anesthesia and is used primarily in acutely ill patients, in those with little or no

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