by Montemayor MM

Pericarditis—Child

Definition

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the sac around the heart. In some cases, the inflammation may cause fluid to build up in the sac and make it difficult for the heart to move.
Pericarditis
pericarditis
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The exact cause of pericarditis is often unknown. Infections, injuries or chronic disease may be involved in some cases.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the risk for pericarditis include:
  • Weakened immune system that is not able to fight off infections and other diseases
  • Surgery to repair heart defects or heart disease
  • Infection from virus, bacteria, parasite, or fungus
  • Chest trauma or injury
  • Autoimmune disorders, like systemic lupus erythematosus

Symptoms

Chest pain is a common symptom. It may start over the left side or center of the chest and spread to the neck and left shoulder. The pain is usually a sharp, stabbing pain that may be worse with deep breathing or lying down.
Other symptoms may include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Fever and chills
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular heartbeat

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will listen for a grating or rubbing sound in your child’s heart. If the condition is severe, there may also be a crackle sound in your child’s lungs.
Images may be taken to evaluate the heart and surrounding tissue. This can be done with:
Your child's heart activity may be tested. This can be done with an electrocardiogram (EKG).
Your child's bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
  • Blood tests
  • Pericardiocentesis

Treatment

The illness can range from mild to life-threatening. Acute inflammatory pericarditis usually improves with treatment within a few weeks or months. Pericarditis caused by chronic inflammatory diseases, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, may last longer or occur again.
Treatment options include:

Medication

The doctor may recommend medication to:
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Manage pain—may be over-the-counter or prescription medication depending on the degree of pain
Antibiotics may be given if the pericarditis is associated with a bacterial infection.

Procedures

For severe pericarditis, your child may need:
  • Pericardiocentesis—fluid around the heart is removed with a needle
  • Pericadiectomy—the sac around the heart is removed—rarely done

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent pericarditis.

RESOURCES

American Heart Association http://www.heart.org

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca

Canadian Family Physician http://www.cfp.ca

References

Acute pericarditis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 28, 2013. Accessed December 3, 2013.

Pediatric pericarditis. Cincinnati Children's website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/info/heart/diagnose/peri.htm. Updated November 2013. Accessed December 3, 2013.

Pericarditis. Seattle Children's Hospital website. Available at http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/heart-blood-conditions/pericarditis-symptoms/. Accessed December 3, 2013.

Revision Information

Health Library Search

Only show results from the selected categories.











Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart’s muscle. Although rare, it can be devastating. Myocarditis can occur with no symptoms and remain undiagnosed....

Septic arthritis is a serious infection of the joints caused by bacteria. This infection causes the joint to be filled with pus cells. These pus cells release substances ...

5 Optic Neuritis condition

The optic nerve allows you to see by carrying images from your eye to your brain. Optic neuritis involves inflammation of the optic nerve. This may cause reduced vision o...

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart’s muscular wall, the myocardium. Although rare, it can be devastating. Myocarditis can occur with no symptoms and remain undia...

Pericarditis is irritation and swelling of the pericardium, which is the thin sac that surrounds the heart. Extra fluid that builds up between the two layers of the peric...

The endocardium is a thin layer of membrane (tissue) that covers the inner surface of the heart. Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of this membrane. Infection occurs...