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In coordination with our entire heart team, UT Southwestern Medical Center’s specialized cardiothoracic surgeons perform pericardiectomy – also known as pericardial stripping – to treat patients with chronic pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the two layers of the pericardium, the sac-like membrane that surrounds the heart.

Our Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery is one of the nation’s leading programs, performing hundreds of open-heart procedures each year.

Experts in Heart Surgery for Pericarditis

A pericardiectomy involves removing the pericardium so that fluid cannot accumulate in the space between it and the heart. Accumulated fluid can compress the heart and prevent it from functioning properly.

UT Southwestern’s Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery is one of the nation’s leading programs, with fellowship-trained surgeons performing more than 600 open-heart procedures each year.

UT Southwestern also offers a dedicated Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. Cardiac rehabilitation is a critical component of recovery and can prevent future heart disease.

What to Expect

Pericardiectomy Preoperative Details

The surgeon provides specific instructions to the patient before the surgery, including risks such as bleeding, infection, or adverse reaction to anesthesia.

Patients also meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery to review their medical history. Patients should not eat after midnight the night before the surgery.

On the day of surgery, the patient arrives at the hospital, registers, and changes into a hospital gown. A nurse reviews the patient’s charts to make sure there are no problems.

The anesthesiologist then starts an IV, and the patient is taken to the operating room, where the surgeon verifies the patient’s name and procedure before any medication is given. Surgery will begin once the patient is under anesthesia.

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. Stitches will be used to close the initial incision.

Pericardiectomy Postoperative Details

After surgery, patients are taken to the intensive care unit and monitored. Pain is likely, and pain medication is given as appropriate.

The length of the hospital stay depends on how quickly the patient is able to recover and perform some physical activity.

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease.

Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials can receive treatments years before they are available to the public.

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