Pericardial Effusion and Cardiac Tamponade

First Things First (assess & treat for the following)

  • Assess patient.
    • Measure HR, BP, oxygen sat, RR, and temp.
    • Determine if patient is in shock. Are feet warm or cold?
    • If patient is asymptomatic and vitals are stable, continue to watch closely.
    • If in shock or unstable, think “full and fast.”
      • Place large-bore IV.
      • Institute fluids and possibly inotropes while arranging for urgent pericardiocentesis.
    • Invasive monitors (A-line, CVP, PAC)
      • Helpful in managing patient
        • But do not delay life-saving intervention for the patient in extremis in order to place them.

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Last updated: May 10, 2010