Pericardial effusion is an increased amount of fluid inside the pericardium,the thin layer of tissue that forms a sac surrounding the heart.
The excess fluid causes pressure on the heart, which prevents it from pumping blood normally. Lymph vessels may also be blocked, and bacterial or viral infections often develop. If fluid builds up very quickly, a condition called cardiac tamponade may occur, in which the pressure on the heart becomes life-threatening and must be treated promptly.
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