In the pericardial window procedure, the doctors surgically remove a tiny piece of the sac – pericardium of your heart that lets them drain extra fluid from it. The pericardium is a fibrous sac that envelops the heart. It is a two-layered pouch with a small volume of fluid in them.

The function of this fluid is to reduce the friction its 2 layers when the heart beats. Sometimes, the fluid buildup is excess between those layers. When that happens, your heart stops working properly. A pericardial window procedure is one way to drain out excess fluid and buildup in the future.

Why Do I Need A Pericardial Window Procedure?

There are a lot of various conditions that result in fluid buildup around the heart. The main issues that come along are shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, low BP, and chest pain. The condition is sometimes treatable with medications. However, this fluid may be fatal, so it requires urgent drainage.

A pericardial window procedure helps in reducing the fluid surrounding the heart and helps diagnose the reason for the extra fluid buildup.

What Happens During A Pericardial Window?

Talk to your doctor regarding each and every aspect of this surgery. The details of the surgery vary with respect to the kind of repair your doctor is doing. Mostly, they do it without using a cardiopulmonary bypass (a heart-lung machine).

A designated anesthesiologist will put you under general anesthesia before starting the surgery making you sleep feel no pain during the entire operation. You may or may not have a breathing tube down your throat to help you breathe while unconscious. You won’t remember having it afterward.

Sometimes the doctors decide not to perform this pericardial window procedure under general anesthesia. If that is the case with you, then your doctor will prescribe medicines to help you relax while the surgery is going on. Numbing medicines and tubes will also help to cater to the pain on the incision site.

Several Options For The Procedure Include:

In certain cases, the surgeon makes a cut or an incision a few inches right below the breastbone or in between the ribs. The tools are then used for draining from this area. If thoracoscopy is done, then several smaller incisions on the chest side is done instead. The cameras and tools inserted are of the same size. The doctor will surgically make a window of the pericardium and perform this procedure.

Your cardiologist may place a chest tube between pericardium layers or in the lung cavity to drain the fluid out. The fluid sample is then sent for analysis to the lab.


In the next follow-up treatment, your stitches or staples will be removed. It will not take long before you resume daily activities soon. However, tiredness is one of the few things which will be constant after the surgery. Follow all the instructions your doctor advises you, take medicines on time, and take special care of your wound until it heals properly.

In case you want an expert opinion, talk to the best cardiologist in Texas from Epic Herat and Vascular Center. Schedule an appointment with us; call at Houston location 832 432 1951 and 832 952 1951 Willowbrook locations.