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Volume 38, Number 1, February 2005

Diagnosis of tuberculous pericarditis and treatment without corticosteroids at a tertiary teaching hospital in Taiwan: a 14-year experience

Chien-Chang Yang, Ming-Hsun Lee, Jien-Wei Liu, Hsieh-Shong Leu
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan; and Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Received: May 14, 2004    Revised: June 21, 2004    Accepted: July 12, 2004   


Corresponding author:

Dr. Su-Jan Lin, Ph.D., Department of Special Education, College of Education, National Kaohsiung Normal University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it




Tuberculous (TB) pericarditis is a rare but life-threatening form of extrapulmonary tuberculosis. The diagnostic strategy and optimal therapy for TB pericarditis are not well established. We retrospectively analyzed the diagnostic data, clinical characteristics, treatment and outcome in a total of 19 patients with TB pericarditis treated from January 1988 to July 2002. Based on the finding of echocardiography, 8 of these patients were classified as having early stage and 11 as having advanced-stage disease. There were 15 men and 4 women, with a mean age of 65 years (range, 34 to 80 years). All patients received antituberculosis chemotherapy, and all but 2 underwent at least 1 of the following procedures: pericardiocentesis and biopsy, pericardial window placement, and pericardiectomy. None of the patients received corticosteroids concurrently. Of the 8 patients with early-stage TB pericarditis, 3 (37.5%) developed constrictive pericarditis, while of the 7 patients with advanced-stage disease (excluding 4 who had already developed TB constrictive pericarditis at diagnosis), 6 (85.7%) subsequently developed constriction. These findings underscore the importance of pericardiectomy in patients with advanced-stage TB pericarditis. To avoid potentially lethal cardiac tamponade and constrictive cardiomyopathy, clinicians should have a high index of suspicion of TB pericarditis when encountering a patient with pericardial effusion. Histopathologic study of pericardial tissue sample is the key to timely diagnosis of TB pericarditis. The favorable outcomes of patients in this series suggest that a combination of antituberculosis chemotherapy and timely pericardiectomy may be the optimal therapy for patients with TB pericarditis.



Key words:

Corticosteroid, pericardiectomy, pericardiocentesis, tuberculous pericarditis, tuberculosis drug therapy



J Microbiol Immunol Infect 2005;38:47-52.