Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 August 2006
Constrictive pericarditis is a uncommom disease in children. We have now encountered pericardial thickening as the cause of severe constrictive physiology in two patients, one also having haemodynamic features of restrictive cardiomyopathy. Both patients, who had refractory ascites and evidence of increased systemic venous pressure, underwent Doppler echocardiography, cardiac catheterisation, and magnetic resonance imaging. Resonance imaging failed to show any thickning of the pericardium, but cardiac catheterisation revealed diastolic equalisation of pressures in all four chambers, with only mild elevation of pulmonary pressure in the first patient, but nearly equalisation of diastolic pressure, and a very high pulmonary arterial pressure with a difference of 7 mm Hg between the end diastolic pressures in the two ventricles in the second patient. Doppler revealed a restrictive pattern of mitral inflow, with high E and small A velocities and a short deceleration time. The clinical background did not suggest pericardial disease in either of the patients. We conclude that a careful search is needed to uncover constrictive pericarditis when there is no previous disease which may suggest late pericardial constriction. The haemodynamic features of restrictive cardiomyopathy can co-exist with pericardial restriction, and differentiation between the two entities is critical in view of the diverse management and prognosis of the two conditions.
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