Pericardial disorders are easily missed. Dr Harry Brown summarises what to look out for.
Conditions affecting the pericardium are less common than heart disease As they have a lower profile than CHD, pericardial diseases may be missed or diagnosed late.
The pericardium is the fluid-filled sac that surrounds the heart. It contains up to 50ml of fluid (a filtrate of plasma), sandwiched between an inner visceral layer and an outer parietal layer, and is composed mainly of collagen and elastin fibres.
The pericardial cavity allows the heart to move slightly relative to other structures and alter shape. This reduces friction due to cardiac motion.
We know the pericardium is not an essential structure, as it can be surgically removed and its absence does not confer any obvious disadvantage. However, it can be a barrier to …