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the chest between the ribs into the pericardium (the thin sac that surrounds the heart) and a small amount of fluid is withdrawn.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.
Review Date 12/4/2022
Updated by: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.