What is Pericardectomy?

Dogs that develop pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart) are at risk for heart failure and sudden death.  Following emergency treatment with pericardiocentesis and diagnostic evaluation, a pericardectomy is often recommended in many cases to prevent the possibility of fluid building back up. A pericardectomy is a procedure that involves the excision of a section of the pericardium, the sac around the heart. Traditionally, a thoracotomy (large incision between the ribs) or median sternotomy (splitting the sternum) was required to gain access to the pericardial sac. These procedures can results in significant pain following the surgery and require longer recovery periods.  A thoracoscopic pericardectomy is a minimally invasive method using 2-3 small portals, and has been shown to be less painful compared to a thoracotomy.