Pericarditis is a disorder caused by inflammation of the pericardium, the thin, sac-like membrane that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis can be caused by bacterial, fungal, or viral infections. It may also result from vascular inflammation (vasculitis), kidney or thyroid diseases, tumors, and injury or trauma to the chest, esophagus, or heart. In many cases, the cause is unknown. Pain occurs as a result of the layers of the inflamed pericardium rubbing against each other.
Review Date: 1/25/2013
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Senior Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital.