Pericardial effusion

Case contributed by Dr Andrew Van


Unconscious, collapse.

Patient Data

Age: 80 years
Gender: Female

Left pleural effusion and loss of clear definition of the left cardiac border. Right lung is unremarkable except for venous congestion.

Echocardiogram suggested to exclude pericardial effusion.


A pericardial effusion measuring 12mm in maximum diameter is present. There are small bibasal pleural effusions. No other focal abnormality is noted within the mediastinum taking into account lack of contrast.

On lung windows, there is atelectatic change in the left lung base. There is no focal area of consolidation.

Case Discussion

On the plain film it is difficult to distinguish a left sided pleural effusion from a pericardial effusion. 

The patient had persistent tachycardia and hypotension despite intravenous antibiotic coverage, fluid resuscitation and exclusion of pneumothorax and myocardial infarction.

A bedside echocardiogram was later performed which subsequently lead to the the patient having a chest CT to confirm the pericardial effusion.

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Case information

rID: 52800
Published: 15th May 2017
Last edited: 15th May 2017
System: Chest, Cardiac
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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