I've been lurking for several months now as my husband has a chronic case of pericarditis that is probably the result of mantle radiation he had 20+ years ago for Hodgkins' disease treatment. He went to Cleveland Clinic in late May (saw Dr. Klein who we both thought great!)but tests there indicated a *wait and see* approach since the fluid was only about 500ml.
In early July, the fluid began to build up rapidly, causing shortness of breath and swelling in his abdomen, legs, and ankles. The Clinic advised that he see his internist, who sent him to his local cardiologist, who sent him to Fairfax INOVA Heart/Vascular Institute and they cut a pericardial window and eventually drained almost two liters of fluid from around his heart. He made a rapid recovery and we thought all was well.
Now, it's early August and the fluid is back (local cardiologist says as much as in July). Current plan is to go back into surgery on Friday and make an even larger window in the pericardium (cutting away as much of the pericardium in front as possible).
I've done a search on the Forum and don't see much action/input/advice on pericardial windows. Both Cleveland and VA surgeons indicate that my husband is not a good candidate for a total pericardiectomy and there appears to be a low success rate/high risk for mantle radiation patients so I'm not eager for him to go that route any way.
Any input/advice would be greatly appreciated. He's not yet in cardiac tamponade but the cardiologist indicates that it's close and actually contacted the surgeon to move up the surgery to Friday rather than waiting until next week (and the cardiologist is not an alarmist).