Contemporary features, risk factors, and prognosis of the post-pericardiotomy syndrome

Massimo Imazio*, Antonio Brucato, Maria Elena Rovere, Anna Gandino, Roberto Cemin, Stefania Ferrua, Silvia Maestroni, Alberto Barosi, Caterina Simon, Paolo Ferrazzi, Riccardo Belli, Rita Trinchero, David Spodick, Yehuda Adler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contemporary series of postpericardiotomy syndrome (PPS) are lacking. The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence, time course, features at presentation, risk factors, and prognosis of PPS. The study population consisted of 360 consecutive candidates to cardiac surgery enrolled in a prospective cohort study. PPS was diagnosed in 54 patients (15.0%; mean age 66 ± 12 years, 48.1% women): 79.6% in the first month, 13.0% in the second month, and 7.4% in the third month. Specific symptoms, signs, or features were pleuritic chest pain (55.6%), fever (53.7%), elevated markers of inflammation (74.1%), pericardial effusion (88.9%), and pleural effusion (92.6%). Cardiac tamponade was rare at presentation (1.9%). Female gender (hazard ratio 2.32, 95% confidence interval 1.22 to 4.39, p = 0.010), and pleura incision (hazard ratio 4.31, 95% confidence interval 2.22 to 8.33, p <0.001) were identified as risk factors in multivariate analysis. Patients with PPS had longer cardiac surgery stays (11.5 ± 4.6 vs 9.9 ± 4.7 days, p = 0.021) and rehabilitation stays (16.4 ± 6.7 vs 12.4 ± 6.2 days, p <0.001) and more readmissions (13.0% vs 0%, p <0.001). Adverse events after a mean follow-up period of 19.8 months were recurrences (3.7%), cardiac tamponade (<2%), but no cases of constriction. In conclusion, despite advances in cardiac surgery techniques, PPS is a common postoperative complication, generally occurring in the first 3 months after surgery. Severe complications are rare, but the syndrome is responsible for hospital stay prolongation and readmissions. Female gender and pleura incision are risk factors for PPS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1183-1187
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


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