Anatomic Approach and Outcomes in Children Undergoing Percutaneous Pericardiocentesis

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Pericardiocentesis is traditionally performed using a subxiphoid approach. Hepatomegaly or loculated and noncircumferential effusions warrant nonstandard approaches to drain effusions; echocardiographic guidance has made these less traditional, non-subxiphoid approaches feasible. The study is aimed at comparing clinical outcomes of the subxiphoid and non-subxiphoid approaches to percutaneous pericardiocentesis in a pediatric population. This is a retrospective chart review of all children undergoing percutaneous pericardiocentesis from August 2008 to December 2019 at a single-center. A total of 104 patients underwent echocardiography-guided pericardiocentesis during the timeframe. Additionally, fluoroscopy was also used in 80 patients. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation was the most common underlying diagnosis (n = 53, 50.9%). A non-subxiphoid approach was used in 58.6% (n = 61) of patients. The fifth and sixth intercostal spaces were the most commonly used (n = 17 each). The non-subxiphoid group tended to be older (95.9 vs. 21.7 months, p = 0.006) and weighed more (23.6 vs. 11.2 kgs, p = 0.013) as compared to the subxiphoid group. Non-subxiphoid approach was associated with shorter procedure times (21 vs. 37 min, p = 0.005). No major complications were seen. Five minor complications occurred and were equally distributed in the two groups. Complications were more likely in younger patients (p = 0.047). The technique and anatomic approach to pericardiocentesis, and the location or size of effusion did not influence the risk of complications. Echocardiography-guided percutaneous pericardiocentesis in children was associated with low complication rates in this single-center pediatric experience. The use of a non-traditional, non-subxiphoid approach was associated with shorter procedure times and did not significantly affect complication rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)918-925
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Cardiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC part of Springer Nature.


  • Non-subxiphoid approach
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Pericardiocentesis

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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