Pericardial effusion

Case contributed by Stefan Tigges


Shortness of breath, long history of rheumatoid arthritis/lupus overlap.

Patient Data

Age: 50 years.
Gender: Female

Presenting CXR.


Massively dilated cardiac silhouette, otherwise normal.

CXR 3 months prior.




Massive pericardial effusion, small left pleural effusion, mild dependent atelectasis.

Case Discussion

An enlarged "water bottle" heart configuration may be due to a cardiomyopathy or a pericardial effusion. In this case, the normal chest X-ray from 3 months prior made cardiomyopathy unlikely.

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