Constrictive pericarditis: Etiology and cause-specific survival after pericardiectomy

Stefan C. Bertog, Senthil K. Thambidorai, Kapil Parakh, Paul Schoenhagen, Volkan Ozduran, Penny L. Houghtaling, Bruce W. Lytle, Eugene H. Blackstone, Michael S. Lauer, Allan L. Klein

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Objectives We sought to determine the association of etiology of constrictive pericarditis (CP), pericardial calcification (CA), and other clinical variables with long-term survival after pericardiectomy. Background Constrictive pericarditis is the result of a spectrum of primary cardiac and noncardiac conditions. Few data exist on the cause-specific survival after pericardiectomy. The impact of CA on survival is unclear. Methods A total of 163 patients who underwent pericardiectomy for CP over a 24-year period at a single surgical center were studied. Constrictive pericarditis was confirmed by the surgical report. Vital status was obtained from the Social Security Death Index. Results Etiology of CP was idiopathic in 75 patients (46%), prior cardiac surgery in 60 patients (37%), radiation treatment in 15 patients (9%), and miscellaneous in 13 patients (8%). Median follow-up among survivors was 6.9 years (range 0.8 to 24.5 years), during which time there were 61 deaths. Perioperative mortality was 6%. Idiopathic CP had the best prognosis (7-year Kaplan-Meier survival: 88%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 76% to 94%) followed by postsurgical (66%, 95% CI 52% to 78%) and postradiation CP (27%, 95% CI 9% to 58%). In bootstrap-validated proportional hazards analyses, predictors of poor overall survival were prior radiation, worse renal function, higher pulmonary artery systolic pressure (PAP), abnormal left ventricular (LV) systolic function, lower serum sodium level, and older age. Pericardial calcification had no impact on survival. Conclusions Long-term survival after pericardiectomy for CP is related to underlying etiology, LV systolic function, renal function, serum sodium, and PAP. The relatively good survival with idiopathic CP emphasizes the safety of pericardiectomy in this subgroup.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1445-1452
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 21 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • CA
  • CAD
  • CI
  • CP
  • Confidence interval
  • Constrictive pericarditis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • LV
  • Left ventricular
  • PAP
  • Pericardial calcification
  • Pulmonary artery systolic pressure


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