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November 1964

Late Results of Pericardiectomy: Chronic Constrictive Pericarditis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.

Arch Surg. 1964;89(5):921-928. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1964.01320050167017

Chronic constrictive pericarditis, a debilitating and relentless form of cardiac compression, was one of the first cardiac lesions to excite serious surgical interest. Although the clinical and pathological characteristics of chronic constrictive pericarditis had previously been described by several individuals, Pick is credited with defining the symptom complex of "pericarditic pseudocirrhosis of the liver" due to latent pericarditis.17 Delorme apparently first conceived pericardiectomy for constriction in 1895 but was unable to employ the surgical concept.9 In a suprisingly contemporary and plaintive plea Delorme stated that he had been unable to apply the concept "despite repeated appeals to my colleagues of the medical services of the Val-de-Grace Hospital." The first successful operation for constrictive pericarditis was reported by Rehn in 1920, seven years after the operation had been performed.18 The evolution of surgical techniques for pericardiectomy gradually led to improved operative methods as well as enhanced diagnostic techniques.

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