To report short-term complications and long-term outcomes of thoracoscopic pericardial window for management of pericardial effusion in dogs.


Retrospective study of dogs in which thoracoscopic pericardial window was performed using a three-cannula technique. Surgery time, complications, postoperative management, area of resected pericardium, histopathology results and outcome were evaluated.


Diagnoses included dogs with idiopathic pericardial effusion (n = 10), cardiac mass (n = 4) and mesothelioma (n = 1). One case required conversion to sternotomy. Median thoracoscopic surgery time was 52 · 5 (range, 45-80) minutes. Complications occurred in four (26%) cases. Median time to discharge was one (range, 1-6) day. Of dogs with idiopathic pericardial effusion, one is alive at 150 days, one was lost to follow-up at 180 days while eight were euthanased of which five were for unrelated reasons. All dogs with neoplastic causes died or were euthanased because of their illness. Median survival time for dogs with idiopathic pericardial effusion (635 days; range, 70-1165) was significantly longer than that for dogs with neoplasia (30 days; range, 1-107).

Clinical Significance

Thoracoscopic pericardial window is of low morbidity with short surgery and hospitalisation times. It provides good long-term control of idiopathic pericardial effusion but short-term palliation of clinical signs in dogs with neoplastic disease.