Between July 1968 and December 1975, 821 patients underwent open heart operations. In 596 cases the pericardium was left open and in 225 the pericardium was closed. Forty-one patients in the open pericardium group required reoperation and 23 of these had tamponade. Four patients in the closed pericardium group had reoperation but there was not a single case of tamponade. In most cases that required reoperation the bleeding was from extrapericardial sources. Absence of tamponade in the closed pericardium group can be explained by the fact that blood from extrapericardial sources of bleeding cannot collect round the heart because the pericardium is closed. Thus closure of pericardium helps to prevent tamponade. Reoperations some months or years after the original operation are technically easier and less hazardous if the pericardium has been closed because the closed pericardium prevents the heart from becoming adherent to the back of sternum and also because there are fewer adhesions in the pericardial cavity.
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