A pericardiectomy is performed for chronic pericarditis. It involves removing the pericardium, the membrane that surrounds the heart.

This is done so fluid cannot accumulate in the area between the heart and pericardium, which can squeeze the heart and cause it to not function properly.

Pericardiectomy Pre-Operative Details

Your surgeon will give specific instructions before the pericardiectomy, including risks such as bleeding, infection, or adverse reaction to anesthesia. Please be sure to contact your insurance company for coverage.

You will also meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery to go over your medical history. Please do not eat after midnight the night before your surgery.

On the day of surgery, you will arrive at the hospital, register, and change into a hospital gown. A nurse will review your chart to make sure there are no problems.

The anesthesiologist will then start an IV and you will be taken to the operating room, where the surgeon will verify your name and procedure before any medication is given. Once you are under anesthesia, surgery will begin.

Pericardiectomy Operative Details

The surgeon will make an incision between the ribs and then spread the ribs along one side to allow access to the heart. Once the heart is reached, the surgeon will strip off the pericardium and remove it. Stitches will be used to close the initial incision.

Pericardiectomy Post-Operative Details

After the pericardiectomy, you will be taken to the post-operative recovery area or the intensive care unit and be monitored. Pain is likely, so you’ll be given pain medication appropriately. It’s important to keep the incision area clean and dry.

The length of your hospital stay depends on how quickly you are able to recover and perform some physical activity. Please let your doctor know immediately if you experience fevers, severe pain, redness, swelling, warmth where the incisions were made, or drainage from the incisions. Your surgeon will give specific instructions about recovery time.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a pericardiectomy expert at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.