I too am extremely happy to have found this forum. On Friday, my 49 yr old husband was diagnosed with constrictive pericarditis. I'll give just a brief history. In April 2008 he went to the emergency room after being short of breath. He was diagnosed with AFIB. He had a cardioversion in May 2008 and July 2008, a cardiac ablation in September 2008, another cardioversion in October 2008, and a second cardiac ablation in December 2008. Obviously all of these procedures did not cure his AFIB. On March 4, 2009 he ended up back in the Emergency Room with shortness of breath, we were assuming it was related to the AFIB. It was found that he had a large pleual effusion. His right lung was tapped (2350 cc of fluid was drained) and he was cardioverted once again and then sent home. On 4/9/09 he was again found to have a large pleural effusion, this time they drained 2300 cc of fluid from his right lung and he ended up in respiratory distress and has left sided pnuemonia. He was not responding to the antbiotics so a Infectious Disease specialist was brought in and diagnosed him with Acute Interstitial Pneumonia. He was taken off the antibiotics and put on steroids, which seemed to work. Again on May 9, 2009 his lung had filled up again, and had to be tapped, taking 2500cc of fluid. Now, on May 19th, a CT Scan of his abdomen (being done for a completely different reason) revealed that he again (10 days later!) had a very large plueral effusion. He was short of breath, had pitting edema in his lower extremeities and aceties in in abdomen. He was told by his pulmonologist to go to the ER again. This time 2700cc of fluid was tapped from his lung.
Ever since his first pulmonary effusion the cardiologist and pulmonologist could not agree. Pulmonary was saying it was cardiology related and that my husband had to be in heart failure, and the cardiologist insisted that there were no signs of heart failure. Finally on Thursday the cardiologist decided to go ahead and do a cardiac cath "just to prove pulmonary wrong". Well the cardiologist is eating crow right now because the cardiac cath indicated contrictive pericarditis. We were told he would need a pericardiectomy. The sooner the better because the pleural effusions will continue until he has the surgery.
Sorry this is so long, but I thought the details would be helpful. Now we are looking for a surgeon who has done many of these procedures with success. We live in Florida, and have already been told we will probably need to go out of state, and that's okay, we just want the best. Any suggestions from anyone would be greatly appreciated.