It remains unclear whether advances in the understanding of the pathophysiology and improvements in cardiovascular imaging over the years have impacted the clinician's recognition of cardiac tamponade (CT). We sought to evaluate signs and symptoms of CT in a present-day population and compare it to a similar group from a decade prior. We performed a retrospective analysis of two cohorts of patients presenting to a tertiary hospital with CT, all of whom underwent pericardial drainage (PD). Group 1 (Gp1) included subjects presenting from 1988 to 1991 and Group 2 (Gp2) included subjects from 2002 to 2005. Fifty-five patients comprised each group, with an average age of 55 years. Seventy-one percent of patients in Gp1 had identifiable cardiovascular symptoms 1 week prior to presentation, compared to 33% in Gp2. Dyspnea was the most common symptom in both groups, and was less frequent in Gp2. Compared with Gp1, chest pain, cough, and lethargy were also less frequent in Gp2. One day prior to PD, tachypnea and pulsus paradoxus were detected more frequently in Gp1 compared to Gp2. Large, circumferential pericardial effusions were the most frequent echocardiographic findings in both groups and the most common etiology of CT was malignancy in Gp1and postoperative bleeding in Gp2. Thus, the recognition of symptoms and physical signs in patients presenting with CT has changed over the past decade, as has etiology of pericardial effusions. However, the diagnosis of CT still remains delayed, and the present data emphasize the need for a heightened index of suspicion for recognizing this hemodynamically-important process.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine