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Heart, section through the middle
Heart, section through the middle


Pericardial fluid culture
Pericardial fluid culture


Definition:

Pericardial fluid culture is a test performed on a sample of fluid from the sac surrounding the heart to identify organisms that cause infection.

See also: Pericardial fluid gram stain



Alternative Names:

Culture - pericardial fluid



How the test is performed:

Some people may have a cardiac monitor placed before the test to check for heart disturbances. Patches called electrodes will be placed on the chest, similar to during an ECG. A chest x-ray or ultrasound may be done before the test.

The skin of the chest will be cleaned with antibacterial soap. A trained physician, often a cardiologist, inserts a small needle into the chest between the ribs into the thin sac that surrounds the heart (the pericardium). A small amount of fluid is removed.

You may have an ECG and chest x-ray after the test. Sometimes the pericardial fluid is taken during open heart surgery.

The sample is sent to a lab, where special techniques are used to grow bacteria in samples of the fluid. It can take a few hours to several weeks to get the test results, depending on the type of organism.



How to prepare for the test:

You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours before the test. You may have a chest x-ray or ultrasound before the test to identify the area of fluid collection.



How the test will feel:

You will feel some pressure and discomfort when the needle is inserted into the chest and the fluid is removed. Your doctor should be able to give you pain medicine so that the procedure does not hurt very much.



Why the test is performed:

Your doctor may order this test if you have signs of a heart infection or if you have pericardial effusion .

The test may also be done if you have pericarditis .



Normal Values:

A normal result means no infectious organisms are found in the fluid sample.



What abnormal results mean:

Abnormal results may be due to an infection of the pericardium . The specific organism causing the infection may be identified. Additional tests may be needed to determine the most effective treatments.



What the risks are:

Complications include:

  • Heart or lung puncture
  • Infection (rare)



Review Date: 9/3/2008
Reviewed By: D. Scott Smith, M.D., MSc, DTM&H, Chief of Infectious Disease & Geographic Medicine, Kaiser Redwood City, CA & Adjunct Assistant Professor, Stanford University.  Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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