Pericardial effusion (“fluid around the heart”) is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the pericardial cavity. Because of the limited amount of space in the pericardial cavity, fluid accumulation will lead to an increased intrapericardial pressure and this can negatively affect heart function. When there is a pericardial effusion with enough pressure to adversely affect heart function, this is called cardiac tamponade. Pericardial effusion usually results from a disturbed equilibrium between the production and re-absorption of pericardial fluid, or from a structural abnormality that allows fluid to enter the pericardial cavity.
Normal levels of pericardial fluid are from 15 to 50 mL.
A CT scan image showing a pericaridal effusion Number of View: 2613