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Bubbles in the Pericardium

Challenging differential diagnosis, Rare disease, Educational Purpose (only if useful for a systematic review or synthesis)

Aditya Saini, Brijesh Patel

Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA, USA

Am J Case Rep 2015; 16:420-423

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.893877

Available online:

Published: 2015-07-02

BACKGROUND: Purulent pericarditis is a rare but life-threatening illness. Often, it may be masked by the primary infectious etiology like pneumonia, endocarditis, or CNS infection, leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Echocardiography is the modality of choice for estimating the presence and size of pericardial effusion and detecting presence of tamponade.
CASE REPORT: We present a case of a young man with acute respiratory illness in whom clinical exam, electrocardiography, and classic echocardiographic findings played a key role in diagnosis. An echo-dense effusion (rather than echo-free space) appearing like “bubbles” within the pericardial space was seen and a purulent nature of the fluid was strongly suspected. Prompt institution of antimicrobial therapy and timely pericardial drainage resulted in complete clinical recovery of the patient.
CONCLUSIONS: In this case, timely diagnosis and prompt treatment of effusion with pericardial drainage and antibiotics resulted in complete recovery from this otherwise devastating infection.

Keywords: Drainage - methods, Diagnosis, Differential, Echocardiography, Electrocardiography, Pericardial Effusion - surgery, Pericardium - ultrasonography, young adult