Cytology of Pericardial Effusion due to Malignancy

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Background. Malignant pericardial effusion occurs in one tenth of all cancers. It is a very serious disorder that is mainly a secondary process due to metastasis because primary neoplasms of the pericardium such as mesotheliomas, sarcomas being exceedingly rare.

Pericardial effusions with a cardiac tamponade constitute a surgical emergency and the pericardiocentesis represents the first class therapeutic recommendation. Pericardial effusion specimens are uncommon and to the best of our knowledge the current study is the largest systematic evaluation of pericardial fluid cytology performed to date.

Material and Methods. Pericardial effusion specimens from 145 patients collected over a 10 year period were studied by cytology and results were compared with pericardial histology results. The minimum pericardial fluid volume used for adequate cytologic diagnosis in these patients was more than 60 mL.

Results. Cytological diagnosis revealed malignant pericardial exudates in 100% of the studied patients. There was no any false negative result in comparison with histology.

Conclusions. Cytology provides an immediate and accurate means of diagnosis. Immunocytology is very important in the diagnostic evaluation.

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