The procedure is usually done in an intensive care unit's procedure room or even at the bedside.
A health care provider will put an IV into your arm in case fluids or medicines need to be given through a vein. For example, medication may be given if your heart beat slows or your blood pressure drops during the procedure.
The health care provider will clean an area just below the breastbone and apply numbing medication (anesthetic). The doctor will insert a needle and guide it into tissue that surrounds the heart. Echocardiography is used to help the doctor see the needle and any fluid drainage. An electrocardiogram (ECG) may also be used to help with positioning.
Once the needle has reached the correct area, it is removed and replaced with a tube called a catheter. Fluid drains through this tube into containers. Usually, the pericardial catheter is left in place so draining may continue for several hours.
Surgical pericardiocentesis may be necessary in difficult cases. This is a more invasive procedure, which may require general anesthesia.