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pericardial effusion


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Hi, everyone,

I've been pretty quiet for some time now, with things going pretty much in the right direction. But Len was hospitalized last week with atrial fibrillation, on top of which an echocardiogram indicated that there was a considerable amount of fluid around his heart.

This is the first time that this has happened and we're not sure what is causing it. He may have had another virus (which is why he went to the doctor in the first place, because he was feeling so crummy) and the fluid may have caused the a-fib or...well, we just don't know.

They couldn't get the heart back into a regular rhythm but did reduce the heart rate and released him on Monday. He's been feeling really rotten, coughing terribly, a unproductive, wheezy cough, and he's as wobbly as he can be.

When we went back to the cardiologist for a follow up visit yesterday, we discovered that the heart had somehow gotten back into its regular (sinus) rhythm but the fluid has increased considerably.

So he's going in for surgery tomorrow to drain the fluid. As luck would have it, it's mostly in the back of the heart so the surgeon can't go through the front and will have to a pericardial window, inserting a catheter to remove the fluid. Then, I guess, we'll find out what it is.

Hoping against hope that it was just the virus that somehow attacked the pericardium, but, of course, the fear of the cancer returning is very much on our minds.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?

Keeping fingers, toes, eyes and everything else crossed,


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Oh Ellen, I am so sorry to hear that Len needs this procedure. Earl had that crazy afib after his lung surgery. One minute his heart as beating 140, then 92, then 135 and I was sitting there watching the telemetry. Scary. Amiodoron?? did the trick for him.

The proc to remove the fluid is very successful. My sister had it a couple of times and then they did that talc procedure and she never had the problem after that.

I will keep you in my prayers.

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I believe it is caused b yhte treatment process but almost never has to be repeated. I may be wrong. Deb had this done one time. Couple days in hospital and My Bunny was home running around good as gold after that. The fluid will be tested for Cancerous Cells of course. My Onc told us that even though there are cells present as long as they do not multiply things are ok. Sending Prayers.

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We, well, my mom, is actually going through that right now too. We've had bad weather/ice storms, so they still haven't gotten anything done about hers yet. She went today for another sonogram, to see if the fluid was still there, and it is. So, she should hear from the doc tomorrow to discuss what they're going to do about it.

Prayers for us all,


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I had a pericardial window cut about 18 months ago, my fluid was due to a viral infection (they think) that started in my bladder - this is the Readers Digest version so I won't go through the whole thing.

My drs decided on a window rather than a drain tube to verify that there was no cancer in the tissue. The surgery wasn't too bad, drain stayed in for a few days and then a couple of weeks to recoup at home. Nothing drastic, just the normal recovery from surgery.

I've had absolutely no problem since - I am assuming that with this permanent window I will not get any fluid build up again.

Take care


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Thanks, everyone, for your informative replies, thoughts and prayers. Although the a-fib continues (started again after surgery) and the heart rate is still too high, the fluid is gone, thanks to the surgery.

Just like Geri's, the pericardial window seems to have done the trick. And, again as in her case, the cause does seem, thank heavens, to have been some viral infection. Nothing nasty was brewing in the fluid when they cultured it. The recovery was relatively minimal (in comparison to the lobectomy, what isn't?), but the virus, the pressure of the fluid and the sob all combined to make Len very weak, so he's still not up to snuff.

He got home yesterday and made noticeable improvement immediately. Nothing like leaving the hospital, however good it may be, behind you. His anxiety levels became much more manageable (he cut down on his xanax immediately) and his legs seemed much stronger and steadier. I had been really worried in the hospital when he could barely make it from the bed to the bathroom WITH my help...he's been walking around the house without any support whatsoever. Yes, he gets tired almost immediately, but still, he's a different man from the one two days ago who couldn't do anything.

They're hoping that the meds will eventually lower his heart rate (it is happening gradually; we'll know more after the next visiting nurse examination) and perhaps, just maybe, the a-fib will right itself once everything else clicks into place. After all, it did happen after the last hospitalisation. But in the meantime, he's on coumadin, since the a-fib can generate blood clots, and now has to shave with an electric razor, something about which he complains bitterly. I notice that he's NOT complaining about being taken off all the leafy green vegetables (Vitamin K factors) that he loathes -- and I love. So I'll eat the spinach and broccoli and give him petit peas.

Not that he's eating much of anything either. But as his strength returns, I hope so will his appetite. Just in case I've stocked the fridge with Ensure...a sad replacement for pinot grigio which is also off limits when on coumadin.

So things are progressing. He goes to the cardiologist in 10 days for another echocardiogram and consultation. Then in March meets with the onc for his three month check up...lots to talk about this time!

Thanks again for the encouragement and support!


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