Hemorrhagic pericardial effusion resulting in constriction in hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia


We report the first ante-mortem diagnosis of hemorrhagic pericardial effusion in hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia resulting in constriction; the case also demonstrates the unusual but well-described complication of right-sided heart failure requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support after pericardiectomy.

Case presentation:

A previously healthy 48 year old man with a strong family history of Osler-Weber-Rendu disease presented to our institution with signs and symptoms of advance heart failure. His workup demonstrated a thickened pericardium and constrictive physiology. He was brought to the operating room where old clot and inflamed tissue were appreciated in the pericardial space and he underwent complete pericardiectomy under cardiopulmonary bypass. Separation from bypass, hampered by the development of right ventricular dysfunction and profound vasoplegia, required significant pressor and inotropic support. The right heart dysfunction and vasoplegia worsened in the early postoperative period requiring a week of ECMO after which his right ventricle recovered and he was successfully de-cannulated.


Given the poor outcome of severe postoperative right ventricular failure after pericardiectomy, with high central venous pressure, a low gradient between central venous and pulmonary artery pressures and high vasopressor requirements, ECMO should be instituted promptly.


Extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation; Osler–Weber–Rendu disease; Pericardial constriction.

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