Pericardial Disease Clinic Overview

People with suspected or known pericardial disease find comprehensive, specialized diagnosis and treatment at the Pericardial Disease Clinic. The pericardium is a thin, saclike tissue surrounding the heart. Pericarditis is swelling and inflammation of the pericardium that often causes chest pain. Left untreated, the pericardium becomes scarred. This can cause a form of heart failure called constrictive pericarditis. Other conditions evaluated and treated at this clinic are pericardial effusion, constrictive pericarditis, congenital absence of the pericardium and pericardial cysts.

Pericardial diseases are relatively common and may be related to an underlying condition. They can be hard to diagnose and are often mistaken for other diseases. Selection of a wrong treatment strategy may even prolong the duration of pericardial diseases.

Treatments for pericardial diseases include medicines, surgery to remove the pericardium (pericardiectomy) and a procedure that uses a small needle or tube to drain excess fluid from the pericardial cavity (pericardiocentesis). Surgery is usually needed for constrictive pericarditis. And it also may be used for pericarditis that comes back even after medical treatment. You might hear this referred to as recurrent pericarditis.

Your team of specialists

The Pericardial Disease Clinic team is multidisciplinary with extensive experience in treatment of pericardial diseases and clinical studies. Each year Mayo Clinic doctors evaluate and treat more than 700 people with pericarditis.

When seeking care at Mayo Clinic for pericardial disease, you'll likely first be seen by a cardiologist with expertise in pericardial diseases. Your care team also may include specialists in radiology, cardiac catheterization, rheumatology, infectious diseases, pulmonary medicine, immunology and cardiothoracic surgery. Together, your team develops a care plan tailored to your needs.

Innovative research

Mayo Clinic is a leader in clinical research in the diagnosis and management of pericardial diseases. Mayo Clinic physician-scientists and researchers:

  • Developed the diagnostic criteria for constrictive pericarditis.
  • Pioneered a procedure to remove and drain the excess fluid from the pericardial cavity (pericardiocentesis) under ultrasound guidance. This procedure has been adopted widely because it reduces death and disease.
  • Study how cardiac imaging can be used to help people with pericardial diseases. These techniques include echocardiography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, cardiac computerized tomography (CT) and nuclear imaging.
  • Helped develop an international consortium for pericardial disease and its database. This advances the understanding of the natural history, optimal treatment and geographical variation of pericardial diseases in the world.
  • Write national and international guidelines for the diagnosis and management of pericardial diseases.
  • Study new treatments for pericardial diseases, such as recurrent pericarditis.


You may be referred by your primary doctor, or you may make an appointment without a referral.

Nationally recognized expertise

Mayo Clinic is top-ranked in more specialties than any other hospital and has been recognized as an Honor Roll member according to the U.S. News & World Report's 2023-2024 "Best Hospitals" rankings.

Mayo Clinic campuses are nationally recognized for expertise in cardiology and cardiovascular surgery:

  • Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for heart and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Mayo Clinic Children's Center in Rochester is ranked the No. 1 hospital in Minnesota, and the five-state region of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2023–2024 "Best Children's Hospitals" rankings.