A pericardial window procedure is carried out on the sac surrounding the heart. Surgically removing a tiny portion of the sac allows doctors to remove any excess fluid in the sac.
A fibrous sac known as the pericardium is located around the heart. The sac comprises two thin layers, with tiny amounts of fluid between. The liquid reduces friction between the two layers when they rub against each other as your heart beats. In some instances, there is a build-up of fluid in between layers. In this case, it can cause heart problems. It is functioning correctly. A pericardial window is a way of draining the excess fluid and preventing further accumulation of fluid.
Doctors can perform a pericardial opening in various ways. In most cases, doctors carry out this procedure while under general anesthesia. One approach is that the surgeon cuts beneath the lower part of the breastbone to reach into the pericardium. The surgeon creates cuts between the ribs to get to the pericardium. The surgeon may also use an approach that involves many minor scratches on the chest’s left side. This procedure is known as video-assisted-thoracoscopy VATS. The procedure utilizes small cameras and instruments to create the pericardial view through these tiny holes.
What are the reasons I might need a pericardial opening?
Different ailments can lead to fluid building around the heart area that is not normal. This could cause shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, low blood pressure, or chest discomfort. Sometimes, this can be treated with medicines. This abnormal fluid can be life-threatening and requires immediate drainage in other situations.
Pericardial windows can assist in reducing the volume of fluid around the heart. It also helps to determine the cause of the excess liquid. Some conditions that require a pericardial opening include:
- Heart disease or the pericardial sac
- The pericardial sac is inflamed caused by an attack on the heart
- The disease of the immune system
- Certain drugs can cause reactions.
- Causes of metabolic disorders, such as kidney failure and the uremia
Sometimes, doctors don’t understand the reason for the buildup of fluid.
A pericardial window isn’t the only option to get rid of the fluid that surrounds the heart. Another procedure that doctors use is catheter-based pericardiocentesis. It involves a needle and a thin, long tubing (a catheter) to remove the heart’s fluid. If your condition renders the procedure challenging for you, your doctor will be more likely to recommend the pericardial window. Your physician may also recommend surgery if you’ve been through pericardiocentesis with a catheter in the past and the excess fluid resurfaced. It is also more likely to require surgery if a part of your pericardium must be examined. The procedure is to identify the cause of the source of fluid.
The heart’s fluid can be removed without the pericardium being removed. Consult your physician about what procedure would make the most sense for your situation.
What are the potential risks associated with having a pericardial opening?
All procedures come with some risk. The risk of the pericardial window is:
- Bleeding that is excessive
- A blood clot (which can cause stroke or other complications)
- Abnormal heart rhythms (which could lead to death in some rare cases)
- Heart attack
- Anesthesia-related complications
- Return of fluids
- The need for repeat procedures
- Heart damage
There is also the possibility that the fluid surrounding the heart could return. If this occurs, it could be necessary to undergo a second procedure, or perhaps you’ll require the entire pericardium taken out.
Your risk may differ depending on your age, general health, and the reason behind your procedure or the type of surgery you undergo. The risks may also vary based upon the structure of your heart, its fluids, and the pericardium. Consult your physician to learn about the dangers that might apply to you.
How can I prepare for the pericardial window?
Discuss how you can get ready for the pericardial opening procedure with your physician. It is advised not to consume anything or drink anything until midnight before the day of the process. Discuss with your doctor whether you have to discontinue taking any medication before the procedure.
The doctor may require additional tests before the surgery. They could include:
- Chest X-ray
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) is used to determine the heart’s rhythm
- Tests for blood to determine general health
- Echocardiogram to see the heart anatomy and blood flow throughout the heart.
- CT or MRI If the doctor needs more information regarding the heart
- Heart catheterization to determine the heart’s pressure
Hair that grows around the site of the operation could be eliminated. A few hours before the procedure, you could be prescribed medication to aid in relaxation.
What happens in a pericardial opening?
Talk to your doctor about what you can expect to see during your procedure. The specifics of your system will differ based on the type of repair your doctor will be performing. Most doctors perform the repair without the cardiopulmonary bypass (a heart-lung machine). During the procedure, your team will be watching your vital symptoms. In general:
- An anesthesiologist is likely to give you general anesthesia before the surgery begins. You will rest deeply and without pain during the procedure. There may be a breathing tube placed down your throat to assist you in breathing. It won’t be remembered later.
- In certain instances, doctors might not perform this procedure with general anesthesia. In this case, your doctor will prescribe a medicine to help you relax throughout the process. The doctor may also prescribe medication to numb the area of the cut.
- The procedure will last for up to an hour.
- There are a variety of options to this procedure:
- In certain instances, the surgeon may cut (incision) about a couple of inches beneath the breastbone within the space between the ribs. Instruments are utilized during this cut. If thoracoscopy is employed, several smaller incisions will be used along the sides of the chest. Small cameras and devices are inserted into these small incisions.
- The doctor will then surgically take a small amount of the pericardium. This creates a “window.”
- The doctor could put a chest tube in between the pericardium’s layers or inside the lungs’ cavity to drain the fluid.
- An in-flight sample could be taken to a laboratory to be analyzed.
- The skin and muscle cuts will be closed with the bandage are put on.
What happens following the pericardial window?
Talk to your doctor about what you can expect following the procedure. In general, after your pericardial window:
- Upon awakening, you may feel tired and confused.
- Your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and oxygen level are carefully monitored.
- Most likely, you will have an instrument that drains all the liquid from your chest or your heart.
- There may be some soreness, but you shouldn’t experience any pain. There are pain medications readily available should you require them.
- You will likely be able to drink alcohol the day following surgery. It is possible to eat regular meals once you can tolerate them.
- There is a good chance that you will need to stay in the hospital for some time. It’s largely contingent on the reason why you needed a pericardial window.
When you leave the hospital:
- A follow-up appointment in seven to ten days removes the staples or stitches. Keep track of any follow-up appointments.
- You’ll be able to return to normal activities shortly, although you might feel a bit exhausted for a few days following the procedure.
- Consult your doctor for any fitness restrictions. Do not lift too much weight.
- Consult a doctor if you are experiencing fever, increased drainage from the wound or wound, an increase in chest pain, or signs of severe illness.
- Follow all the doctor’s directions regarding medications and exercise, diet, and wound treatment.
Many patients notice an improvement in their symptoms immediately after performing pericardial windows.
Before you sign the test or procedure, ensure you are aware of:
- The test’s name or the procedure
- The reason you’re having the test or procedure is because of the
- What kind of results can we expect, and what do they translate to?
- The potential risks and advantages of the process or test
- What are the possible adverse side effects or possible complications might be?
- What time and place you’ll need to undergo your test or the procedure
- Who will conduct the test or perform the process, and what the qualifications of that person are?
- What could happen If you didn’t have the test or the procedure
- Other tests or procedures to consider
- How and when will you achieve the desired results?
- Who do you call following the test or procedure in case you have problems or questions?
- For the test or for the course, how much will you have to pay?