Constrictive pericarditis physical examination

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Huda A. Karman, M.D.


Physical findings of patients with constrictive pericarditis may include general, cardiovascular and other organ systemic findings. General findings could be indistinct or could include muscle wasting, cachexia, or jaundice. Cardiovascular Findings include sinus tachycardia, distant or muffled heart sounds, pericardial knock, cardiac murmur, pulsus paradoxicum (paradoxus), kussmaul sign (elevation of systemic venous pressures with inspiration). Other systemic findings include hepatomegaly, spider angiomata, palmar erythema, peripheral edema.

Physical Examination

Physical findings of patients with constrictive pericarditis may include general, cardiovascular and other organ systemic findings [1]

General Findings

The physical examination may show that your neck veins protrude, suggesting increased blood pressure in the area. This condition is called Kussmaul's sign. During the physical examination the doctor may note weak or distant heart sounds when listening with a stethoscope.

Cardiovascular Findings

Kussmaul sign can also be a symptom for patients with right ventricular failure, restrictive cardiomyopathy, right ventricular infarction, and tricuspid stenosis.

Other Organ System Findings

The physical exam may also reveal liver swelling and fluid in the belly area.


  1. Sohn DW (2012). "Constrictive Pericarditis as a Never Ending Story: What's New?". Korean Circ J. 42 (3): 143–50. doi:10.4070/kcj.2012.42.3.143. PMC 3318085. PMID 22493608.

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