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Use of Ultrasound in the Diagnosis of Pericardial Effusion

Ann Intern Med. 1966;65(3):443-452. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-65-3-443
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Pericardial effusion is a potentially life-threatening condition and warrants prompt recognition. However, it is often difficult to differentiate this particular process from a large, dilated heart. Furthermore, even with a reasonably certain diagnosis of pericardial effusion, the clinician frequently wants further confirmation before attempting a pericardiocentesis. As a result various diagnostic procedures such as cardiac catheterization (1), intravenous carbon dioxide (2), angiocardiography (2), and scanning techniques using radioisotopes (3) have been used to substantiate the presence of pericardial fluid. All of these tests, however, either are not sufficiently accurate to be considered ideal or entail some risk to the patient


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