Pericardial fluid culture

Pericardial Fluid Culture

A pericardial fluid culture is a laboratory test that is done to identify the microorganisms present in the fluid that surrounds the heart. It can also reveal if any infections have entered the heart. In some cases, a pericardial fluid culture can also help to diagnose conditions like cancer.


Before performing a pericardial fluid culture, a patient should inform the doctor if they are on any medications and if any prior medical treatments have been completed. Patients should also mention any recent infections or close contacts with people who are ill.


The pericardial fluid culture is usually done as an outpatient procedure. A doctor can take a sample of the pericardial fluid during a procedure called a pericardiocentesis. This is a simple procedure which involves a doctor inserting a needle into the chest cavity between two ribs to draw a sample of the fluid. This fluid is then sent to a laboratory for testing. The results of the test can usually be accessed within two days.


There are several different types of tests that are used for pericardial fluid culture. These include Gram stain, culture, immunoassay and DNA testing. Depending on the suspected source of infection, the doctor may suggest a specific test or multiple tests to diagnose the condition.


The risks associated with a pericardial fluid culture are minimal. In rare cases, infection or bleeding can occur at the needle site. Patients may also experience chest discomfort or heaviness.

Why is it done?

  • A pericardial fluid culture is sometimes performed to identify the cause of chest pain or breathlessness.
  • It may be used to diagnose pericarditis, an inflammation of the pericardium.
  • It can help to identify the cause of an accumulation of fluid in the pericardium.
  • It may also be used to help diagnose some forms of cancer.

When to get it done?

A doctor may recommend a pericardial fluid culture if they suspect that the patient is suffering from an infection or inflammation of the pericardium. It may also be used to help diagnose some forms of cancer.