During a pericardial fluid culture, a small needle is inserted into the chest between the ribs into the pericardium (the thin sac that surrounds the heart) and a small amount of fluid is withdrawn. Samples of the fluid are placed in various culture media in the laboratory, and the media is observed for the growth of microorganisms. The test is performed when an infection of the heart is suspected or when a pericardial effusion is present.
Update Date 12/7/2014
Updated by: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.