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Pericarditis - bacterial

  • Alternative Names

    Purulent pericarditis

    • Chest pain
    • May move (radiate) to the neck, shoulder, back, or abdomen
    • Pain increases with breathing
    • Sharp, stabbing
    • Sitting up or standing relieves pain
    • Chills
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Dry cough
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Splinting of ribs with deep breathing (bend over and hold chest when breathing)
    • Sweating

    Signs and tests

    Signs include:

    • Faint or far away sounding heart sounds
    • Rubbing sound heard when listening to the heart through a stethoscope
    • Septic shock
    • Signs of fluid in the pericardium (pericardial effusion)
    • Signs of fluid in the space around the lungs (pleural effusion), such as decreased breath sounds
    • Signs of pneumonia

    Doctors may suspect pericarditis when one of the following tests shows an abnormal amount of fluid in the pericardial sac:

    • Chest CT scan
    • Chest MRI scan
    • Chest x-ray
    • Echocardiogram

    This condition is diagnosed when the fluid around the pericardial sac is shown to be infected with bacteria. The following tests help doctors make this diagnosis:

    • Blood cultures
    • CBC showing increased WBC count
    • Pericardial fluid culture
    • Pericardial fluid gram stain