International Perfusion Association


Intraoperative Acute Cardiac Tamponade as a Result of Intracardiac Perforation Requiring Emergency Continuous Pericardiocentesis and Open Sternotomy: A Case Report and Literature Review of a Rare but Fatal Complication

Intraoperative acute cardiac tamponade associated with iatrogenic intracardiac perforation from percutaneous interventional cardiac procedures is a rare but potentially catastrophic complication. We report a case of intraoperative acute hemopericardium caused by a left atrial (LA) perforation resulting in cardiac tamponade in a patient undergoing a baffling procedure for the correction of two anomalous pulmonary veins draining into her superior vena cava (SVC) that required continuous pericardiocentesis with autologous blood transfusion via the femoral vein and an emergency intraoperative transfer from the interventional cardiology cath lab to the cardiac operating room for an open sternotomy and primary repair. An 86-year-old female with known right-ventricular (RV) failure with preserved ejection fraction (left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF): 50-55% on transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) one week prior) and atrial fibrillation was admitted for her third heat failure exacerbation in two months despite being adherent to her aggressive diuresis medication regimen. Upon her readmission and due to her symptomatic and seemingly refractory heart failure, the patient underwent a cardiac computer tomography (CT) with 3D reconstruction that showed previously undiagnosed partial anomalous pulmonary venous return (PAPVR) of two of her four pulmonary veins aberrantly draining into the SVC. This anatomic pathology was deemed to be the likely etiology of her repeated episodes of recurring heart failure exacerbations, shortness of breath, peripheral edema, and fatigue. The patient was counseled and consented to a percutaneous baffle of the two anomalous veins to redirect more of the returning pulmonary venous blood away from the SVC and to the LA. While under general endotracheal anesthesia (GETA) with a TEE in place during the procedure, the patient suddenly developed acute hypotension, tachycardia, and a reduction in expired carbon dioxide (EtCO2) was noted quickly followed by evidence of a rapidly accumulating hemopericardium on TEE. Cardiothoracic surgery was urgently consulted to the interventional cardiology cath lab while the patient underwent an emergency pericardiocentesis that momentarily alleviated her hemodynamic instability, cardiac tamponade physiology, and deteriorating overall clinical picture. While performing continuous pericardiocentesis with autologous return of the aspirated blood via femoral venous access the patient was urgently transported to the cardiac operating room and prepped for emergency sternotomy for primary repair of the LA. Following primary repair via sternotomy, multiple drains were placed and the thoracic cavity was closed with wires. The patient was immediately transported to the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) intubated, mechanically ventilated, and sedated. During this time, the patient progressively required additional vasoactive and inotropic agents to support her mean arterial pressure (MAP), and following a multidisciplinary discussion with the patient’s family regarding her goals of care, the decision was made to withdraw further resuscitation efforts and the patient expired four hours later.

Keywords: anesthesiology; cardiac tamponade; interventional cardiology; intracardiac perforation; papvr; percutaneous; pericardiocentesis; sternotomy.

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