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Treatment Options

Many mild cases of pericarditis get better on their own with rest and when any fever subsides. In rare cases, however, pericarditis may cause more serious problems that require surgery.


To help you manage the symptoms of pericarditis and recover from any underlying infection, your doctor may prescribe one of the following:

  • anti-inflammatory and/or analgesic drugs (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen)
  • prescription pain relief (eg, colchicine, corticosteroid)
  • antibiotics or antifungals as needed

Procedures & Surgery

Rarely, pericarditis may result in fluid build-up around the heart. To relieve a dangerous build-up of fluid in the pericardium, a needle or tube can be inserted through the chest wall to drain the swollen sac. This procedure, called pericardiocentesis, is done in the hospital and guided by echocardiography or CT scanning.

Constrictive pericarditis occurs when there is scarring and a loss of elasticity in the pericardial sac. This can cause blood to rapidly fill the ventricle sooner than it should. This condition is treated with a procedure called pericardiectomy, which is used to remove the scarred sac.

When the ventricle becomes rigid it can cause problems with heart function. This is known as restrictive cardiomyopathy. While restrictive cardiomyopathy is similar to constrictive pericarditis the two conditions are treated differently. So it’s crucial that these are diagnosed correctly.