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Pericarditis Diagnosis

To diagnose pericarditis, your doctor will review your medical history for any clues about a recent illness including a respiratory or viral infection. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam and check for specific heart sounds such as a pericardial "rub" or sounds of excess fluid (pericardial effusion). Blood tests are used to rule out a heart attack or to check for inflammation, infection or other conditions. Other tests that your doctor may use include:

  • Chest X-ray is a non-invasive test that takes pictures of the heart and lungs; these can help the doctor determine if there is heart failure or certain lung problems that might cause chest pain.
     
  • Echocardiogram is a non-invasive test using ultrasound (sound waves) and a device called a transducer—which is placed on the surface of the chest—to create a moving picture of the heart. It shows the size and shape of the heart chambers and problems with pumping function.
     
  • Electrocardiogram is a simple non-invasive test that can be done in the doctor’s office using small adhesive pads called electrodes that are placed on the arms, legs, and chest. These electrodes are connected to a machine that detects and prints out the heart's electrical impulses, giving a 10-second snapshot of what the heart is doing right at that moment.
     
  • Other possible tests may include: Cardiac CT or cardiac MRI