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What Is Pericarditis?

Pericarditis (pronounced pear-i-car-DIE-tis) is when the thin membrane, or sac, that surrounds the heart becomes inflamed. This membrane is called the pericardium.

The pericardium has an inner layer and outer layer with fluid in between.

When the pericardium gets inflamed, extra fluid can build up between the layers. The increase in fluid can squeeze the heart. As a result, the heart cannot work the way it should.

Pericarditis in Children

Most of the time, pericarditis results from an infection with a virus.

In children, pericarditis may happen after heart surgery — not because of an infection but because their surgeon had to cut through their pericardium to operate on their heart.

Pericarditis at Seattle Children’s

Our heart team has treated many children with pericarditis. We have extensive experience with the treatment these patients may require.

When you come to Children's, a team of people will take care of your child. Along with your child's cardiologist, you are connected with nurses, child life specialists, social workers and others, if their expertise is needed. We work together to meet all of your child's health needs and help your family through this experience.

Since 1907, Children's has been treating children only. Our team members are trained in their fields and also in meeting the unique needs of children. For example, the doctors who give your child anesthesia are board certified in pediatric anesthesiology. This means they have extra years of training in how to take care of kids. Our child life specialists know how to help children understand their illnesses and treatments in ways that make sense for their age. Our expertise in pediatrics truly makes a difference for our patients and families.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Spring 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Cold Water Shock Can Quickly Cause Drowning
  • E-Cigs Are Addictive and Harmful
  • Bystanders Can Intervene to Stop Bullying

Download Spring 2014 (PDF)