Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Case report
Pneumopericardium and pleural effusion: a rare complication of paediatric pericardiocentesis
  1. Andreia Palma,
  2. Claudio Henriques,
  3. Patrícia Vaz Silva and
  4. António Pires
  1. Paediatric Cardiology, Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra EPE, Coimbra, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andreia Palma; andreia.fmp91{at}


Pneumopericardium is a rare complication of pericardiocentesis (PC), occurring as a result of either a direct pleuropericardial communication or a leaky drainage system. Pneumopericardium is often self-limiting; however, physicians should be aware of this complication as it may progress to tension pneumopericardium, which requires immediate recognition and management. PC has been associated with pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum or subcutaneous emphysema, but the association with pleural effusion has been less reported. The authors present the case of a 14-year-old healthy boy who developed post-PC pneumopericardium and pleural effusion, a rare association reported in the literature. The diagnosis of this potential life-threatening event was made using readily available complementary diagnostic methods, such as transthoracic echocardiography and chest X-ray.

  • air leaks
  • pericardial disease
  • paediatric intensive care

Statistics from


  • Contributors AP is the main author since she designed the work and has done the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data. CH is a co-author who became responsible for the acquisition of complementary diagnostic methods. PS and AP are co-authors who revised the work and ensured its accuracy.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Parental/guardian consent obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.