Pericardial Effusion is a condition where there is a fluid accumulation within the pericardial sac.  

This causes the pressures outside of the heart to rise.  

When a critical pressure is reached, the chambers of the heart begin to collapse, a condition called tamponade.  

This is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention as death will occur shortly after the development of tamponade.  

The fluid is often due to a tumor located in the heart base or right auricular region.

Recheck echocardiograms are necessary as some masses that bleed are very small and cannot be identified during the initial examination.

Surgical procedures such as a pericardial window or subtotal pericardectomy (removal of the sac) can prevent tamponade from returning; however, there is a risk of uncontrolled hemorrhage with these procedures.

A pericardiocentesis is a procedure where a needle is inserted into the pericardial sac and the fluid is removed.  This fluid is submitted for cytologic review