Cardiac tamponade is a cardiological emergency requiring prompt treatment in order to avoid a fatal outcome. It can complicate a number of medical conditions and it is important, therefore, that all practitioners are aware of its presentation, diagnosis and management. These are outlined. We suggest that, with certain specific and important exceptions, percutaneous catheter pericardiocentesis is to be recommended in the management of cardiac tamponade. We include a review of 51 consecutive cases treated at our own institution. Catheter pericardiocentesis was successful in 49 (96%) cases and 36 (80%) patients did not require any further intervention. There were no major and only two minor complications which required no additional treatment. We review previous literature concerning percutaneous pericardiocentesis. Using recommended procedures, pericardiocentesis is successful in 90-100% of cases and major complications are rare.
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