Cancer and radiation therapy are the most common causes of pericardial effusion and cardiac tamponade. If not quickly treated, cardiac tamponade can be a life-threatening event. The onset of this complication can be insidious or abrupt, and the symptoms frequently go unrecognized until the condition becomes catastrophic. Supported by laboratory studies, cardiac tamponade is largely a clinical diagnosis made by a thorough physical examination and a careful solicitation of the patient's history. It is important that physicians and nurses make an accurate and rapid diagnosis of tamponade and initiate appropriate and immediate treatment.
© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.