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The patient's vital signs are monitored throughout the procedure, and an ECG tracing is continuously run. If time allows, sedation is administered, the puncture site is cleaned with an antiseptic iodine solution, and a local anesthetic is injected into the skin to numb the area. The patient is instructed to remain still. The physician performing pericardiocentesis will insert a syringe with an attached cardiac needle slowly into the chest wall until the needle tip reaches the pericardial sac. The patient may experience a sensation of pressure as the needle enters the membrane. When the needle is in the correct position, the physician will aspirate, or withdraw, fluid from the pericardial sac.

When the procedure is performed for diagnostic purposes, the fluid will be collected into specimen tubes for laboratory analysis. If the pericardiocentesis is performed to treat a cardiac tamponade or other significant fluid build-up, a pericardial catheter may be attached to the needle to allow for continuous drainage.

After the cardiac needle is removed, pressure is applied to the puncture site for approximately five minutes, and the site is then bandaged.

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