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Pericardial cavity

Recommended video: Pericardium [04:07]
Structure, blood supply and innervation of the pericardium.

The pericardial cavity signifies a potential space existing between the opposing layers of the serous pericardium's parietal and visceral layer. This cavity harbors a delicate fluid layer, allowing the heart to pulsate and move without friction. This fluid serves to diminish surface tension and provide lubrication. Consequently, the pericardial cavity facilitates unrestricted and free heart mobility.

This cavity envelops the heart and preserves its continuity except at the entry and exit points of the major vessels. The pericardial layers form two distinct 'tubes' encircling specific sets of these vessels: one interlinking the inferior vena cava, superior vena cava, and pulmonary veins, while the other connects the aorta and pulmonary trunk. The arrangement of these 'tubes' of pericardium and vessels within the cavity brings forth the oblique and transverse sinuses, which are recesses within the serous pericardium.

Excessive fluid accumulation in the pericardial cavity, termed pericardial effusion, has the potential to lead to cardiac tamponade. This condition occurs when the excess fluid accumulated in the pericardial cavity, exerts pressure on the heart and impedes its ability to pump blood effectively. Pericardiocentesis is a procedure used to both relieve this pressure and diagnose the cause of the effusion.

Terminology: English: Pericardial cavity 
Latin:
Cavitas pericardiaca
Function: Allows frictionless movement of the heart
Location: Between parietal and visceral layers of pericardium

Learn more about the pericardial cavity and the pericardium in this study unit: 

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