The value of pericardial window in preventing pericardial effusion after cardiac surgery
Background: Pericardial window (PW) is a technique that allows the passage of fluid from the pericardial to the pleural cavity to reduce the postoperative pericardial effusion. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the pericardial window in decreasing pericardial effusions after cardiac surgery.
Methods: The study included 400 adult patients who underwent cardiac surgery from 2017 to 2020. Patients were randomly assigned into two groups; the pericardial window (PW) group included 200 patients who underwent posterior pericardiotomy, and the control group included 200 patients who did not undergo this procedure.
Results: Preoperative data were comparable between both groups. More patients in the PW group had chest tube drainage more than 500 cc/ 24 hours (40 (20%) vs. 5 (2.5%), respectively; p=0.005). The drainage of 500 cc/24 hours or more in the mediastinal tube was lower in the PW group (10 (5%) vs. 40 (20%) patients in the PW and control groups, respectively; p<0.001). Early pericardial collection occurred in 6 patients in the PW group (3%) vs. 46 (23%) in the control group (p<0.001), and no patient had late effusion in the PW group vs. 26 (13%) in the control group (p< 0.001). Six patients in the PW group (3%) had postoperative atrial fibrillation and 12 patients (6%) in the control group (p= 0.23). Pulmonary complications were nonsignificantly higher in the PW group (Lung collapse: 40 (20%) vs. 26 (13%); p=0.08 and pleural effusion: 34 (17%) vs. 26 (13%); p= 0.3, in the PW vs. control groups, respectively).
Conclusion: Posterior pericardiotomy is a simple technique that could reduce postoperative pericardial effusion, atrial fibrillation, and the pericardial tamponade. The technique did not increase the postoperative complications compared to the standard method.