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In this video Katherine Earl, DVM, walks you through performing a pericardiocentesis on a dog. Ultrasound use is demonstrated in this particular procedure.

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Katherine Earl's picture
Katherine Earl


Enrolled: 08/2011

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Jennifer Whitten's picture

Not to be critical, but did she just use her dirty hand to touch the sterile field and advance the catheter? Then take the tubing which the assistant touched and connect to the patient? Concerned....

Lee Herold's picture

Your observations are correct. She is using her right hand to locate the insertion point between the ribs and does connect the suction system to the catheter after the pericardial space is reached. In veterinary medicine pericardiocentesis and other paracentesis procedures are considered aseptic but not truly sterile procedures. Aseptic or clean technique is usually used for non-indwelling urinary catheter insertions (say for urine sample collection), paracentesis and other procedures. Whereas in these procedures sterile gloves and tubes/catheters/needles are usually used, a complete sterile field, double surgical scrub of the patient and gowning of the operator is not used. The goal of asepsis is not to eliminate all organisms but to reduce the amount of the endogenous micro-organisms on the skin of the patient, the operator, and instruments to sufficiently reduce the risk of infection in these short procedures. Unfortunately as is often the case in vet med, there aren’t any studies of the rate of infection as a complication after pericardiocentesis. Infection as a result of the centesis procedure would be expected to occur within a week of the procedure. I personally have never seen a patient who has undergone a single or even multiple pericardiocentesis procedures return with a complication of infection at the cutaneous insertion site or at the level of the pleura or pericardium but it would be great to have a study about this. Has anyone else seen infection as a complication of pericardiocentesis?