AJR: CT procedure less invasive, costly, for treating pericardial effusion

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CT-guided tube pericardiostomy could be a more effective technique for treating pericardial effusion than the usual treatment involving surgical drainage of the fluid that has collected around the heart, according to an article in the October issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

According to Suzanne Palmer, MD, from the department of radiology in the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California University Hospital and colleagues in Los Angeles, CT-guided tube pericardiostomy works just as effectively for pericardial effusion, but requires no recovery time, fewer resources and costs 89 percent less.

The authors studied 39 CT-guided tube pericardiostomy procedures that were performed successfully at their facility.

"Patients having the procedure required only local anesthesia and no post-treatment recovery time," said Suzanne L. Palmer, MD, lead author of the study. "Comparison of procedure charges at our institution showed an 89 percent cost savings with CT-guided tube pericardiostomy instead of surgical drainage. We found that the total charge for a CT-guided procedure was only $769.15; the total charge for a surgical drainage procedure was $6,952.52," she said.

The authors concluded that CT-guided tube pericardiostomy is an attractive option for patients suffering pericardial effusion, particularly in the post-operative period, since it spares them from undergoing another invasive procedure.