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Alternative Names Return to topPurulent pericarditis
Definition Return to top
Bacterial pericarditis is irritation and swelling of the sac that surrounds the heart (pericardium), due to infection by bacteria.
See also: Pericarditis
Causes Return to top
Bacterial infections are one cause of pericarditis. Since the introduction of antibiotics, bacterial pericarditis has become rare.
It most often occurs in men between the ages of 20 and 50, usually after some type of respiratory infection. It can also occur after skin or mouth infections that produce bacterial infection of the blood (bacteremia) and after heart surgery.
The bacterial infection causes the pericardium to become swollen and inflamed. Pain occurs as a result of the inflamed pericardium rubbing against the heart. Fluid may build up in the pericardial sac.
The most common bacteria that cause this condition are:
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Doctors may suspect pericarditis when one of the following tests shows an abnormal amount of fluid in the pericardial sac:
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:
Treatment Return to top
The goal of treatment is to cure the infection.
Bedrest with the head of the bed raised may reduce the workload on the heart.
Other treatments include:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The disorder may be life-threatening if untreated. The outcome is good if bacterial pericarditis is treated promptly. Most people recover completely with treatment.
Possible Complications Return to top
References Return to top
LeWinter MM. Pericardial Diseases. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP. Libby: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 70.Update Date: 5/15/2008 Updated by: Alan Berger, MD, Assistant Professor, Divisions of Cardiology and Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.