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01.12.2016 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery 1/2016

Efficacy and safety of thoracoscopic pericardial window in patients with pericardial effusions: a single-center case series

Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery > Ausgabe 1/2016
Ichiro Sakanoue, Hiroshi Hamakawa, Yu Okubo, Kazuhiro Minami, Ei Miyamoto, Yu Shomura, Yutaka Takahashi



Pericardial effusion (PE) is a common finding in patients who had chronic cardiac failure, who had undergone cardiac surgery, or who had certain other benign and malignant diseases. PE ranges in severity from mild, asymptomatic effusions to cardiac tamponade. Although a thoracoscopic pericardial window (TPW) is a minimally invasive surgical option for patients with PE, there are few published data regarding the outcomes of TPW for PE. We investigated the contribution of the TPW to the treatment of PEs that are recurrent or difficult to drain percutaneously.


We conducted a retrospective chart review of the indications for TPW that included data on preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative variables; morbidity; recurrence; and survival. Fourteen consecutive patients with PE that was recurrent or difficult to drain percutaneously and who underwent treatment with a TPW were enrolled in this study. Trocars for passage of the thoracoscope and surgical instruments were introduced through two or three incisions. Mini-thoracotomy was also performed in patients with hemopericardium and loculated fibrinous effusions. All patients were evaluated by face-to-face interviews, transthoracic echocardiography (TTE), and chest radiography 3–6 months after the TPW was obtained.


The mean age of the patients was 70 years (range 28–83 years). The operative time was 72.1 ± 29.5 min. Six patients had undergone open heart surgery during the month prior to their presentation with PE. No intraoperative or postoperative complications occurred, although PE had recurred in one patient. Two patients died of malignant disease several months after the TPW. The cardiothoracic ratio (determined on chest radiographs) and the ejection fraction ratio (determined using TTE) had improved at the 3- and 6-month follow-up evaluations (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.012, respectively). Some patients could discontinue diuretics after the procedure, as assessed by the cardiologist based on symptom alleviation, chest radiography, and TTE findings.


For patients with PEs that are recurrent or difficult to drain percutaneously, TPW is an effective, safe surgical approach in terms of cardiac function and radiological findings.
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