Large pericardial effusion as a complication in adults undergoing SCT

M. Norkin, V. Ratanatharathorn, L. Ayash, M. H. Abidi, Z. Al-Kadhimi, L. G. Lum, J. P. Uberti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Large pericardial effusion (LPE) leading to cardiac tamponade is a rare complication described in patients undergoing SCT. This complication is considered to be a manifestation of chronic GVHD; however its pathophysiology is poorly understood. Currently, there are no published data systematically describing the incidence, clinical characteristics and outcomes of LPEs in adult stem cell transplant recipients. We retrospectively evaluated 858 adult patients (512 autologous, 148 related and 198 unrelated donor) who underwent hematopoietic stem cell and BM transplants at our institution from 2005 to 2008 for the development of post transplant LPE. Seven patients (0.8%) were found to have LPEs and all these patients had undergone unrelated allografts. The median day of diagnosis post transplant was 229 (range 42-525). None of these patients had active manifestations of GVHD other than serositis at the time of LPE detection. Pericardial window (PW) was successfully placed in all patients who developed cardiac tamponade and most patients with LPE were effectively treated by increasing immunosuppression. We conclude that LPE is a rare late complication after allogeneic transplant in adults and in our study developed only after unrelated transplant. PW can be safely performed in these patients and LPEs can be successfully treated with intensification of systemic immunosupression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1353-1356
Number of pages4
JournalBone marrow transplantation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiac tamponade
  • chronic GVHD
  • pericardial effusion
  • polyserositis
  • stem cell transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Transplantation


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