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n. acute or chronic inflammation of the membranous sac (pericardium) surrounding the heart. Pericarditis may be seen alone or as part of pancarditis (see endomyocarditis). It has numerous causes, including virus infections, uraemia, and cancer. Acute pericarditis is characterized by fever, chest pain, and a pericardial friction rub. Fluid may accumulate within the pericardial sac (pericardial effusion). Rarely, chronic thickening of the pericardium (chronic constrictive pericarditis) develops. This interferes with activity of the heart and has many features in common with heart failure, including oedema, pleural effusions, ascites, and engorgement of the veins. Constrictive pericarditis most often results from tubercular infection.

The treatment of pericarditis is directed to the cause. Pericardial effusions may be aspirated by a needle inserted through the chest wall. Chronic constrictive pericarditis is treated by surgical removal of the pericardium (pericardiectomy).

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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