Cardiac tamponade is an emergency.
Pericardial aspiration may be both therapeutic and diagnostic.
One should ensure that pericardial fluid is sent for microbiological and cytological investigation.
The underlying condition, such as ventricular rupture or malignant pericarditis, should be treated but it is clear that the prognosis is often poor and a palliative approach may be appropriate.
Last reviewed 01/2018