How serious is pericarditis and how is it treated?

My son has pericarditis and the sac around his heart has thickened and they are talking about open heart surgery. How serious is this and are there other options? He is in UAB Hospital, Birmingham Ala.

Submitted by Jerry from Oneonta, Alabama on 06/15/2014

by James J. Livesay, MD

Pericarditis is a condition causing inflammation and scarring of the sac around the heart. This can affect the pumping function of the heart and lead to heart failure. If confirmed, the primary treatment is surgical removal of the sac. Depending on the cause and severity, the procedure and outcome can be routine or more complicated, contingent on a number of factors. Your son is in an excellent center for treatment of this condition. I am sure they will do an excellent job in caring for him.