A Rare Case of Pericardial Decompression Syndrome in a Filipino Female Patient With Suspected Malignant Pericardial Effusion

Danielle Louis E. Villanueva, Joseph Justin Regalado, Celia Uy-Agbayani


Pericardial decompression syndrome (PDS) is a rare, under-reported and potentially fatal complication of pericardial drainage characterized by paradoxical hemodynamic deterioration. The onset ranges from immediate to as long as 48 h post drainage. We present a case of a 51-year-old woman admitted due to progressive dyspnea. She was hemodynamically stable but with signs of cardiac tamponade. On two-dimensional echocardiography (2D-echo) there was a massive pericardial effusion in tamponade physiology. Immediate surgical drainage was done but intra-operatively there was depressed cardiac contractility necessitating inotropic support. Post-operative 2D-echo showed right ventricular (RV) and left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction. She was admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU) for 72 h. Repeat 2D-echo showed marked improvement in RV and LV systolic function. She was then discharged improved on the fifth hospital day. The pathophysiology of PDS is still not very clear. The simplest mechanism is that sudden removal of compressing pericardial fluid causes increased venous return with expansion of the RV at the expense of the LV leading to acute heart failure. There are no published studies to propose preventive measures and treatment remains supportive. There has been only one published case reported here in our country. We report this case of a patient who successfully recovered from PDS.

J Med Cases. 2020;11(4):86-89
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/jmc3446


Pericardial decompression syndrome; Low output cardiac syndrome; Malignant pericardial effusion

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