Combining attentive, compassionate care with our extensive clinical and research resources, UT Southwestern's cardiology experts and vascular specialists deliver individualized care within pre-eminent health care facilities.
The specialized heart doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center expertly diagnose and treat people with pericarditis, an inflammation of the two layers of the pericardium, the sac-like membrane around the heart.
Combining skill and experience with the newest science-based tools and techniques, our team offers both nonsurgical and surgical treatments for pericarditis.
Advanced Treatments for Cardiac Inflammation
Pericarditis can lead to complications that include irregular heart rhythms, cardiac tamponade, and constrictive pericarditis. Pericarditis most often affects men between the ages of 20 and 50 who have upper respiratory infections.
UT Southwestern’s specialized heart doctors offer the most advanced tools and technologies to expertly diagnose and treat pericarditis. Our team of experts works closely with patients and their families to choose the most appropriate treatment to improve quality of life.
Causes of Pericarditis
Causes of pericarditis include:
from viral infections, such as adenovirus, polio, influenza, and rubella
- Fungal infections, which can lead to acute pericarditis
Symptoms of pericarditis can include:
pain, usually relieved when sitting, that can extend to the neck, shoulders,
back, or abdomen
breathing when lying down
UT Southwestern cardiologists might perform several tests to diagnose pericarditis. Common diagnostic tests include:
- Cardiac catheterization: To see the heart’s blood vessels and valves
X-ray: To look for a shadow
around the heart that is shaped like a water bottle
work: To check for markers of inflammation; might include a complete blood
count (CBC) and/or C-reactive protein (CRP) test
(ECG or EKG):
To distinguish from heart attacks by using specific cardiac markers
- Echocardiogram (echo or cardiac
ultrasound): To distinguish from heart attacks by using specific cardiac
- Cardiac MRI: To look for evidence of
inflammation around the heart
- Stethoscope exam: To listen for sounds of friction between the two layers of the pericardium, muffled or distant sounds, and lower breath sounds indicating pleural effusion
Treatments for pericarditis include:
or ibuprofen: Medications to reduce inflammation
and analgesics: Medications to relieve pain
Medications to reduce fluid accumulation
- Pericardiectomy: Surgical removal of a
portion or all of the pericardium (also called pericardial stripping)
- Pericardiocentesis: A procedure to draw fluid from the heart with a needle when cardiac tamponade is present
UT Southwestern’s cardiac rehabilitation specialists create customized plans that integrate proper nutrition, exercise, and, if necessary, nicotine cessation into patients’ lifestyles to improve their cardiovascular health.