At a glance
Why get tested?
Pericardial fluid analysis is very rarely done today because other less invasive tests exist to help determine the cause of the fluid accumulating around the heart.
When to get tested?
Pericardial fluid removed for therapeutic reasons (pericardial tamponade) is often routinely sent for analysis. Also if a bacterial or malignant cause is suspected or the cause of a large collection is obscure.
A sample of fluid collected by a doctor from the pericardial sac using a procedure called a pericardiocentesis (see Common questions)
What is being tested?
Pericardial fluid is a liquid that acts as a lubricant for the movement of the heart. It is found in small quantities between the two layers of the . Pericardial fluid is produced by mesothelial cells in the membranes and acts to reduce friction as the heart pumps blood.
A variety of conditions and diseases can cause of the pericardium (pericarditis) and/or excessive accumulation of pericardial fluid (pericardial ) for example; , , congestive heart failure, autoimmune disorders or cancer.
Pericardial fluid analysis comprises a group of tests used to determine the cause: red and white blood cell counts and differential, cytology, Gram stain, fungal culture and acid fast staining for tuberculosis. Biochemical tests that may be performed are pH, glucose, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and total protein.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A sample of fluid is collected from the pericardial sac by a doctor with a syringe and needle using a procedure called a pericardiocentesis (see Common questions). This is usually done in a special laboratory under guidance by echocardiography or fluoroscopy and ECG monitoring.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No special preparation is usually needed