Medically reviewed by Gerhard Whitworth, R.N. — composed by Stephanie Watson — updated on march 27, 2018

What is the pericardium?

The pericardium is a slim sac the surrounds her heart. It protects and also lubricates your heart and also keeps it in place within your chest.

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Problems can happen when the pericardium becomes enflamed or fills through fluid. The ede can damages your love and impact its function.

The pericardium has a few important roles:

It keeps her heart resolved in place within her chest cavity.It avoids your love from extending too much and overfilling with blood.It lubricates her heart to avoid friction with the tissues about it as it beats.It protects her heart from any type of infections that could spread from adjacent organs like the lungs.

The pericardium has two layers:

Fibrous pericardium is the outer layer. It’s do from special connective tissue and also is enclosed to her diaphragm. It holds your heart in ar in the chest cavity and protects from infections.Serous pericardium is the within layer. That further split into two more layers: the visceral and parietal layers. The serous pericardium helps to lubricate your heart.

In in between these two layers is the fluid-filled pericardial cavity. It lubricates the heart and protects the from injury.

Pericardial effusion

Pericardial effusion is the buildup the too much fluid between the pericardium and also your heart. This can occur from damage or disease in the pericardium. Liquid can additionally build up if yes bleeding in your pericardium ~ an injury.

Possible reasons of pericardial effusion include:

infectionsrecent love surgerycancer that has actually spread to your pericardiumkidney failure

Symptoms the pericardial effusion include:

chest pressure or painshortness of breathdifficulty breathing once you lied downnauseaa emotion of fullness in your chesttrouble swallowing

The excess liquid from pericardial effusion can cause intense push on her heart and damage it.

Pericardial cyst

A pericardial cyst is a noncancerous, fluid-filled expansion in the pericardium. This form of cyst is an extremely rare, affecting only 1 in 100,000 people.

Most human being who have pericardial cysts room born v them, however they frequently aren’t diagnosed until they reach their 20s or 30s.

Pericardial cysts room usually found during a chest X-ray that’s excellent for an additional reason due to the fact that these cysts don’t reason symptoms on their own.

Symptoms might only show up when the cyst presses on surrounding organs or structures, and can include:

pain in your best shoulder the radiates to your left shouldershortness the breatha feeling of fullness in her chest

Pericardial cysts no dangerous themselves. However, if they push on her lungs or various other structures in your chest, castle can reason complications favor inflammation or major bleeding. Rarely, a pericardial cyst have the right to lead to heart failure.

Other problems with the pericardium

A couple of other conditions and also complications deserve to also influence the pericardium.


Pericarditis is ede of the pericardium. Feasible causes include:

heart attackheart surgeryinjuries, such together from a car accidentkidney failuremedications such as phenytoin (Dilantin), warfarin (Coumadin), and procainamide

Acute pericarditis start suddenly and lasts just a few weeks. Chronic pericarditis develops more slowly and can last longer.

Usually pericarditis is mild and heals end time. Periodically it will boost with plenty of rest. An ext severe pericarditis may need to it is in treated with medication or surgical procedure to prevent it from damaging your heart.

Cardiac tamponade

Cardiac tamponade is a problem that’s led to by a buildup the fluid, blood, gas, or a tumor in your pericardial cavity. This buildup places pressure on your heart, which prevents it from filling and also emptying properly.

Cardiac tamponade is no the very same as pericardial effusion, though it have the right to be a complication of fluid buildup indigenous pericardial effusion.

One sign of cardiac tamponade is a huge drop in blood pressure. Cardiac tamponade is a medical emergency. It have the right to be life threaten if it no treated quickly.

The pericardium anchors and protects her heart and permits it come move quickly within your chest. When fluid or various other substances build up in the pericardium, they can put pressure on your heart and impact its capacity to pump blood.

Some problems that influence the pericardium no serious and will improve on their own. Others can damage your heart and are considered medical emergencies.

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If you have actually symptoms such as chest pain, shortness the breath, and also a feeling of fullness in her chest, see your physician right away. They can perform test to discover the cause of the problem and also advise you about treatments to protect against heart damage.