A retrospective analysis of clinical data of 71 patients with constrictive pericarditis (CP) diagnosed by echo-Doppler technique (mean age, 49±17) was done. In 27 patients (38%), the etiology was unknown, and the three most frequent identifiable causes were tuberculosis (23/71, 32%), cardiac surgery (8/71, 11%), and mediastinal irradiation (6/71, 9%). Pericardiectomy was performed in 35 patients (49%) with a surgical mortality of 6% (2/35), and 11 patients (15%, 11/ 71) showed complete resolution of constrictive physiology with medical treatment. Patients with transient CP were characterized by absence of pericardial calcification, shorter symptom duration, and higher incidence of fever, weight loss, and tuberculosis. The 5-yr survival rates of patients with transient CP and those undergoing pericardiectomy were 100% and 85±6%, respectively, which were significantly higher than that of patients without undergoing pericardiectomy (33±17%, p=0.0083). Mediastinal irradiation, higher functional class, low voltage in ECG, low serum albumin, and old age were the independent variables associated with a higher mortality. Tuberculosis is still the most important etiology of CP in Korea, and not infrequently, it may cause transient CP. Early diagnosis and decision-making using follow-up echocardiography are crucial to improve the prognosis of patients with CP.
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