Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- Pericarditis is an inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart (the pericardial sac).
- Pericardial effusion is a collection of fluid in the pericardial sac. This fluid may be produced by inflammation.
- The cause of pericarditis in most individuals is unknown but is likely due to viral infection. Pericarditis may be an associated complication of many diseases or may be due to trauma.
- The diagnosis of pericarditis is made by history and physical examination. Testing usually includes an electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG), chest X-ray, and echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart. The inflammation of pericarditis is usually treated with anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen). It is important to treat the underlying disease or illness if one is present.
- Pericardial tamponade occurs when enough fluid accumulates in the sac to compromise the heart's ability to adequately pump blood.
- Tamponade is a medical emergency and is treated by pericardiocentesis, inserting a needle into the pericardial sac to remove the fluid.
What is pericarditis?
The heart muscle has a tight covering that surrounds it, a lining sac called the pericardium (peri=around +cardium=heart). This sac actually has two layers. The visceral pericardium is only one cell layer thick and fits tightly onto the heart muscle. The parietal pericardium is much tougher and thicker and has fibers that tether the heart to the rib cage and diaphragm. There is a potential space between the layers, meaning that in normal situations, it has a minimal amount of fluid. However, should inflammation occur, it can fill with fluid. Inflammation of the lining of the heart is called pericarditis (itis=inflammation).
Get the latest treatment options.