Pericardial fluid analysis in diagnosis and prognosis of patients who underwent pericardiocentesis

Andrew Sullivan*, Adam S.C. Dennis, Krishnaraj Rathod, Daniel Jones, Stefania Rosmini, Charlotte Manisty, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Vanessa Foggo, John Conibear, Tat Koh, Paul Rees, Mick Ozkor, Catherine Clare Thornton, Constantinos O'Mahony

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this study, we aimed to examine the diagnostic yield of pericardial fluid biochemistry and cytology and their prognostic significance in patients with percutaneously drained pericardial effusions, with and without malignancy. This is a single-center, retrospective study of patients who underwent pericardiocentesis between 2010 and 2020. Data were extracted from electronic patient records, including procedural information, underlying diagnosis, and laboratory results. Patients were grouped into those with and without underlying malignancy. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to analyze the association of variables with mortality. The study included 179 patients; 50% had an underlying malignancy. There were no significant differences in pericardial fluid protein and lactate dehydrogenase between the 2 groups. Diagnostic yield from pericardial fluid analysis was greater in the malignant group (32% vs 11%, p = 0.002); 72% of newly diagnosed malignancies had positive fluid cytology. The 1-year survival was 86% and 33% in nonmalignant and malignant groups, respectively (p <0.001). Of 17 patients who died within the nonmalignant group, idiopathic effusions were the largest group (n = 6). In malignancy, lower pericardial fluid protein and higher serum C-reactive protein were associated with increased risk of mortality. In conclusion, pericardial fluid biochemistry has limited value in determining the etiology of pericardial effusions; fluid cytology is the most important diagnostic test. Mortality in malignant pericardial effusions may be associated with lower pericardial fluid protein levels and a higher serum C-reactive protein. Nonmalignant pericardial effusions do not have a benign prognosis and close follow-up is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Early online date19 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


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