Care for pediatric pericarditis in Denver

At Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, Colorado, we treat pericarditis as part of our comprehensive pediatric cardiology program. Our teams understand that hearing something is wrong with your child’s heart is scary, however, our pediatric cardiologists are highly trained in treating complex heart conditions.

For more information about heart care at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, please call (303) 860-9933.

What is pericarditis?

Pericarditis is caused by inflammation or an infection of the pericardium, the thin sac, or membrane that surrounds the heart. There is an inner and outer layer of the pericardium and a small amount of fluid exists between them. Often, when the pericardium becomes inflamed, the fluid between its two layers increases, causing what is called a pericardial effusion. If the amount of fluid increases at a fast pace, the effusion can impair or threaten the ability of the heart to function properly. This is called pericardial tamponade.

Symptoms of pericarditis

  • Chest pain
  • Feeling fatigued, weak or tired
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fever

Pericarditis can be diagnosed by your child’s doctor through listening to the heart and lungs. Often, your physician will be able to hear the noise of the pericardium making contact with the heart. Sometimes, advanced imaging may be required for diagnosis, including:

  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • MRI
  • CT scan

Treating pediatric pericarditis

Our pediatric heart teams offer an array of treatments for pericarditis in an effort to eliminate the inflammation or infection and get your child back to a healthy, active life. Your child’s treatment may include:

  • Medications: Antibiotics may be used to treat the infection, if it is bacterial. Other medications may be used to eliminate pain and inflammation.
  • Aspiration: An aspiration may be necessary to remove the excess fluid that is surrounding the heart, called a pericardiocentesis. This removed fluid can be tested for signs of infection and inflammation.
  • Heart surgery: A pericardiectomy, removal of a portion of all of the pericardium, may be performed in patients experiencing chronic pericarditis.