Chylous Pericardium

Also known as: chylopericardium, idiopathic chylopericardium.

What is chylous pericardium?

Blood’s non cellular fluid seeps out of blood vessels to bathe the body's cells/tissues and is called interstitial or tissue fluid. When this fluid is drained from the tissues into vessels, it's called lymph and the vessels are called lymphatics. Lymphatic fluid and lymphatic vessels plays an important role in the body by helping with immune function (moving proteins, fats, vitamins and carrying immune infection-fighting immune cells) and filtering unwanted bacteria through the lymph nodes. Lymphatics eventually drain into the bloodstream through the a large duct (the thoracic duct) in the neck region. When something interrupts the flow, or damages the ducts, a leak of lymphatic fluid into the space around the heart, is called a chylopericardium.


What causes chylous pericardium?

Chylous pericardium can have many causes. Injury to the lymphatic duct from trauma or surgery; from systemic diseases, infections like tuberculosis, tumors, or as a complication of heart failure. It can also be associated with congenital (present at birth) abnormalities of lymphatic vessels.


What are the symptoms of chylous pericardium?

While a small amount of fluid leakage causes no symptoms, it can eventually cause poor heart function, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, and chest pain.


What are chylous pericardium care options?

Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Initially, the fluid can be drained from around the heart using a number a number of procedures and once a leaking vessel is detected it may be sealed.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD

This page was last updated on: 3/23/2018 2:06:12 PM

Dr. Kristine Guleserian, a congenital heart surgeon with The Heart Program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, explains what to expect during a prenatal consultation.

From the Newsdesk

Procedure helps patient heal pain free
03/20/2018 — Being told your child needs open heart surgery is frightening enough. A major concern is the pain after the procedure. Now a new type of anesthesia is proving to be a real game changer in the operating room. Jessica Garcia was born with a hole in her heart. 
March Patient of the Month: Theodore
03/15/2018 — Meet our March Patient of the Month, Theodore. Theodore was diagnosed with cleft palate, cleft lip and a heart problem when he was only 18 weeks old. After he was born, Theodore had to be admitted into the NICU to be able to perform the necessary surgeries for him to live a healthy life.