Constrictive pericarditis is stiffening and thickening of the
membrane sac around the heart (pericardium). Repeated or prolonged episodes of
inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis) can lead to constrictive
pericarditis, which restricts the heart's ability to pump effectively.
Constrictive pericarditis can be caused by medical conditions or treatments that involve inflammation. These include radiation therapy and complications after surgery. But the cause is often unknown.
If the pericardium becomes thick and stiff and interferes with the
heart's ability to pump blood, it can be removed in a procedure called
pericardiectomy. Although the pericardium surrounds and cushions the heart, the
heart can function without it, if necessary.
April 5, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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