The pericardium is a thin sac that surrounds the heart, separating it from the lungs and other organs in the chest. It is composed of two layers—an inner and outer layer—that hold fluid in between.
There are several types pericardia diseases, all of which require specialized, comprehensive care.
This condition is caused by the pericardium becoming inflamed. Pericarditis can cause chest pain, changes in the heart’s rhythm (referred to as “EKG changes”), or the accumulation of fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion or pericardia tamponade).
Fluid around the heart must be drained. Weill Cornell Medicine’s Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery offers state-of-the-art techniques for draining the pericardium, including percutaneous drainage—a minimally invasive technique that uses advanced imaging technology.
Chronic inflammation may lead to severe thickening of the pericardium, which restricts the heart. To treat constrictive pericarditis, cardiac surgeons at Weill Cornell Medicine perform a pericardiectomy, commonly referred to as “pericardial stripping” to maximize relief and prevent future recurrence.
Pericardial cysts are sacs of fluid surrounded by a fibrous layer of tissue. A skilled surgeon can safely remove them, often using minimally invasive techniques.
Why choose Weill Cornell Medicine for pericardial disease treatment?
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I am interested in participating in a clinical trial for cardiac conditions. Where can I learn about the current trials at Weill Cornell Medicine?
I would like to learn more about my specific condition and treatment options. Which resources do you recommend?
We recommend visiting the Weill Cornell Medicine Cardiothoracic Department website, as well as the American Heart Association.
What happens after I schedule my heart surgery?
Once you and your care team decide that surgery is the best treatment plan for your condition, you will schedule a pre-surgical appointment, which takes place at M404.
What happens during the pre-surgical appointment?
During your pre-surgical appointment:
Your nurse practitioner will explain what you can expect for your specific surgery and hospital stay
Your nurse practitioner will review your current medications
You will sign a consent form for the surgery and potential blood transfusion (Please note: Most patients do not receive blood transfusions during surgery, but we are required to have you sign this consent form, just in case you do need a transfusion and are not awake at the time to give your consent. ALL blood is stringently tested for HIV, hepatitis, and cytomegalovirus.)
You have the opportunity to ask questions
You will receive a small bottle of antibacterial soap
This process generally takes two to three hours.
What do I need to do to prepare for the surgery?
You will be given instructions as to which medications you should stop taking to prepare for surgery.
On the night before your surgery, shower using half of the bottle of antibacterial soap. On the morning of the surgery, before you come to the hospital, shower using the rest of the soap.
Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery. You may take your medications that the nurse practitioner approved you to take the morning of surgery, with just a small sip of water.
Where should I park for my surgery?
Parking is available in front of the 68th Street circular entrance to the hospital. There are also several parking garages in the immediate area.
Parking is only validated on the day of your hospital discharge, not on the day of your pre-surgical appointment.
What should I bring for my surgery?
Please be sure to bring you:
Pajamas, robe, and slippers
Generally try not to bring too much to the hospital, because you probably won't use a lot of these things and will just have to carry them home.
Please do not bring any jewelry or expensive electronics with you for the first hospital day. Your family and friends are welcome to bring those items once you are awake and in your room.
Where should I go to check in for the surgery?
Please check in at Greenberg 3-West (Same-Day Surgery Unit), which is on the third floor of the Greenberg Pavilion, using the "G" elevators.
If you are the first case, please check in at 6 AM. If you are the second case, please check in at 10 AM.
How long does surgery usually take?
The usual length of the actual cardiac surgery is about three and a half to four hours. However, the total length of time your family member will spend in the operating room is longer. Much of that "extra time" is spent preparing you for surgery and getting you ready to go to the recovery room (PACU) or ICU following surgery.
Where should my friends and family members wait during the surgery?
During your surgery, your family and friends should wait in the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute Atrium. Please tell them to check in at the front desk so that they can be contacted when your surgeon calls.
If the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute Atrium is closed at the time of your surgery, your family and friends may wait in the smaller waiting area right outside the Cardiothoracic ICU (4-West).
There is also a café on the first floor of the hospital, directly opposite the information desk and down the hall from the front door on the left, which is open at all times. This café sells coffee, tea, and a variety of food.
Where can I learn more information about heart surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine?
Please download our extensive Guide to Surgery.
I have questions about my insurance coverage. Who should I contact?
Please see Insurance Questionsor call (212) 746-5161.