Pericardial Disease Program

If you have symptoms that could indicate pericarditis, turn to UC San Diego Health for expert diagnosis and treatment.

The pericardium is a thin sac-like membrane that surrounds our heart. 

It fixes our heart to the chest, provides protection against infection, and reduces the friction between the heart and the surrounding organs. 

The pericardium may get diseased due to illnesses that start in other parts of the body, such as cancer or connective tissue disease. 

Types of pericardial disease include: 

  • Pericardial effusion – fluid around the heart
  • Constrictive pericarditis – stiff and thickened pericardium
  • Pericardial tumors
  • Infection of the pericardium

Acute and Recurrent Pericarditis

Pericarditis is caused by inflammation of the pericardium. If treated correctly, most cases of pericarditis resolve on their own. However, about 30% of patients can experience multiple episodes, known as recurrent pericarditis.

Treating recurrent pericarditis requires a longer duration of treatment and can require specific medications.

Our physicians have experience caring for patients with acute and recurrent pericarditis. Using appropriate testing and imaging, we can quickly diagnose patients with pericardial disease and provide appropriate treatment, including access to the latest medical therapies and surgery.

Read More About Pericarditis in our Health Library

Our Pericardial Disease Specialists

Led by Ajit Raisinghani, MD, and Nicholas Phreaner, MD, the UC San Diego Health Pericardial Disease Program includes physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating patients with pericardial disease. 

Our multidisciplinary team also includes cardiothoracic surgeons, rheumatologists, interventional cardiologists, and cardiac imaging specialists.

When to See a Doctor

The most common symptom of pericarditis is chest pain. Because the symptoms of pericarditis may look like other conditions, it’s important to see a specialist for a diagnosis.

For many patients, the diagnosis of pericarditis is delayed and this creates a need for increased treatment time.



Pericardial Disease Research

As an academic medical center, UC San Diego Health leads the way in basic science and clinical research while providing excellent care for patients with pericardial disease. 

We also conduct clinical trials for patients with pericardial disease. The insights we gain from this research can lead to innovations in patient care.View Pericarditis Clinical Trials