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Comprehensive review of pericardial diseases using different imaging modalities


Pericardial abnormalities are common cardiovascular disease entity, which are encountered in various clinical settings. Imaging plays an integral role in evaluation of pericardial abnormalities. The appropriate use of multiple imaging modalities is crucial to initiate the diagnosis and guide the referring providers to establish a management plan. Echocardiography (echo) is the initial imaging modality of choice. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are complementary imaging tools with better tissue characterization. Pericardial abnormalities include pericardial effusion, pericarditis, pericardial constriction, tamponade, pneumopericardium, pericardial rupture, fistulas, congenital abnormalities, and pericardial tumors. Pericardial effusion is a common clinical entity, where there is accumulation of fluid in the pericardial sac. Pericarditis can be acute, incessant, chronic, or recurrent. Pericardial thickening or enhancement are the main CT findings in acute pericarditis. Pericardial constriction results into diastolic heart failure. Differentiating constrictive pericarditis from restrictive cardiomyopathy is important, since these conditions can present with similar clinical and hemodynamic findings and both have different management. Right atrial or right ventricular compression by the pericardial sac contents should raise the suspicion for tamponade. Immediate pericardiocentesis to release the elevated intra-pericardial pressure can be lifesaving. Pericardial rupture is a serious condition that can occur after trauma and can lead to cardiac herniation. The main purpose of this article is to do a comprehensive review of the imaging appearance of pericardial diseases on different imaging modalities and establish a structured diagnostic approach for pericardial diseases to appropriately guide management.

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Correspondence to Shaimaa A. Fadl.

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Fadl, S.A., Nasrullah, A., Harris, A. et al. Comprehensive review of pericardial diseases using different imaging modalities. Int J Cardiovasc Imaging (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10554-020-01784-x

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  • Pericarditis
  • Constrictive pericarditis
  • Pericardial tamponade
  • Hemopericardium
  • Pneumopericardium
  • Pericardial fistula