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Imaging-Guided Therapies for Pericardial Disease

The following information provides simple, key information, using terminology that is more widely understood. The following information is designed to help patients understand the benefits of cardiac imaging in diagnosing acute and chronic pericardial inflammation.

The majority of patients recover from acute pericarditis with little to no complications. In up to one-third of cases, symptoms return. In rare situations, continued irritation of the protective sac surrounding the heart may lead to long term complications, medication use, or surgery.

Diagnosis of pericarditis usually relies on the combination blood tests to check for signs of inflammation and an Echocardiogram (ultrasound the heart) to verify the heart looks and works as expected. The use of other imaging tests, Cardiac computerized tomography (CCT) scan and Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR), may be used if a more detailed picture is needed. These imaging tests can detect thickening or scarring of the heart lining but may be limited by abnormal heart rhythms, kidney disease or contrast allergies.

The goal for pericarditis treatment has four (4) parts: decrease inflammation or swelling, improve symptoms and quality of life, lower risk of reappearance of symptoms, and prevent symptoms from becoming permanent or requiring surgery. The use of imaging has been shown to help health care providers identify complicated cases sooner. Customization of medical therapy based on severity of inflammation can lower the risk of complications and reduce treatment duration.   

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