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Pericarditis
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Pericarditis

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HEART & BLOOD

Heart Disease

From MayoClinic.com

 

Screening and diagnosis

Your doctor will likely begin by taking your medical history and asking questions about your chest pain and other symptoms. He or she may ask whether you've recently experienced an upper respiratory infection or a flu-like sickness, and whether the chest pain worsens when you lie down. You may also undergo a physical examination and a review of whether you have or have had medical conditions such as kidney disease, a recent heart attack or chest trauma. Your doctor may place a stethoscope on your chest to listen for the sounds characteristic of pericarditis, which are made when the pericardium rubs against the outer layer of your heart. Some doctors describe this characteristic noise as an acute pericardial rub.

Your doctor may have you undergo tests that can help determine whether you've had a heart attack, whether fluid has collected in the pericardial sac, or whether there are signs of inflammation. Your doctor may use blood tests to determine if a bacterial or other type of infection is present. You may also undergo one or more of the following diagnostic procedures:

  • Chest X-ray. With an X-ray of your chest, your doctor can study the size and shape of your heart. Images of your heart may show an enlargement heart if excess fluid has accumulated in the pericardium.

  • Computerized tomography (CT). This X-ray technique can produce more detailed images of your heart and the pericardium than would conventional X-ray studies.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). In this test, patches with wires (electrodes) are attached to your skin to measure the electrical impulses given off by your heart. Impulses are recorded as waves displayed on a monitor or printed on paper. Certain ECG results may indicate pericarditis.

  • Echocardiogram. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create a picture of your heart and its structures, including fluid accumulation in the pericardium. Your doctor can view and analyze this image on a TV monitor.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technique uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of your heart that can reveal thickening or other changes in the pericardium.

 

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Last Modified : 03/15/08 01:45 AM