What Is pericardiectomy?

Pericardial effusion (320x240)
credit: © 2016-2019 Healthwise, IncorporatedPericardial effusion

Pericardiectomy is an operation to remove part or all the pericardium.

The pericardium is a two-layered membrane that surrounds the heart, protects it from infection, and holds it in the chest wall.

The pericardium contains a small amount of fluid that lubricates the heart during its normal pumping function.

Pericardiectomy is the most common treatment for constrictive pericarditis. This condition occurs when the pericardium becomes stiff and calcified, and it does not allow the heart to stretch as it normally does when it pumps blood. This causes the heart to swell and develop symptoms of heart failure. 


Restrictive pericarditis is primarily caused by:

  • Previous heart surgery
  • Radiation to the chest
  • Surgical complications
  • Diseases (tuberculosis, mesothelioma)
  • Viral or bacterial infection


U.S. National Library of Medicine. PubMed Health. Pericarditis – constrictive. / Last reviewed: May 13, 2014; visited Nov. 24, 2014

Bonow, Robert O., Mann, Douglas L., and Zipes, Douglas P. Braunwald's Heart Disease : A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 2-Volume Set (9th Edition). Saint Louis, Mouri, USA: Elsevier - Health Sciences Division, 2011. P:1665.