Tamponade, cardiac - definition

Tamponade, cardiac - definition

Tamponade is a life-threatening compression of the HEART that prevents it from expanding to fill with BLOOD. Cardiac tamponade is most often a complication of PERICARDITIS and develops when fluid rapidly accumulates within the layers of the PERCARDIUM. The pericardium’s fibrous outer layer does not readily expand, which forces the fluid to press inward against the heart. Without immediate action to drain the fluid, the heart will stop beating. ELECTROCARDIOGRAM (ECG) demonstrates the characteristic patterns of electrical changes in the heart’s rhythm that strongly indicate cardiac tamponade. COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY (CT) SCAN or MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI) can confirm the diagnosis. Generally the doctor can aspirate (withdraw) the fluid using a needle and syringe (pericardiocentesis), which relieves the pressure and allows the heart to resume normal function. Surgery to create an opening in the pericardium may be necessary to manage cardiac tamponade that occurs with chronic pericarditis. Penetrating trauma that causes bleeding into the pericardium may also cause cardiac tamponade.


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The cardiovascular system

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