Background: Constrictive pericarditis is an uncommon disease that prevents the normal diastolic filling of the heart and pericardiectomy is the only satisfactory treatment. Methods and Results: The clinical characteristics and treatment of patients who underwent pericardiectomy for constrictive pericarditis (n=23) were reviewed. Surgery was performed via left anterolateral thoracotomy plus transsternal extension in 3 patients, and median sternotomy in 20 patients. There were 2 deaths, resulting in an overall mortality rate of 8.7%. Of the 23 patients, 8 had Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Tb) infection, 2 had streptococcus infection, 1 had strongyloidiasis (Strongyloides stercoralis) and 1 developed the condition after a myocardial infarction; 2 patients underwent pericardial substitute insertion as post-heart surgery, and 3 patients had connective tissue disorders; 6 patients had idiopathic disease. Conclusion: These results show that bacterial infection, especially Tb, is a major etiology of constrictive pericarditis in Taiwan and that median sternotomy is an excellent approach for exposing the heart for pericardiectomy.
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