Pericardial effusion - Definition

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Pericardial effusion is an accumulation of liquid in the pericardium, the double-walled casing that contains and protects the heart. It can be caused by an inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis) and is characterized by symptoms such as thoracic pain, more acute during inhalation, and shortness of breath. This presence of fluids in the pericardium can, at an elevated level, alter the functioning of the heart. The treatment, medicinal or surgical (drainage), is focused on the cause.