Background: Entamoeba histolytica (E. histolytica) is rarely identified as a cause of amebic pericarditis. We report a case of amebic pericarditis complicated by cardiac tamponade, in which the diagnosis was missed initially and was made retrospectively by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of a stored sample of pericardial fluid. Furthermore, we performed a systematic review of the literature on amebic pericarditis. Case presentation: A 71-year-old Japanese man who had a history of sexual intercourse with several commercial sex workers 4 months previously, presented to our hospital with left chest pain and cough. He was admitted on suspicion of pericarditis. On hospital day 7, he developed cardiac tamponade requiring urgent pericardiocentesis. The patient’s symptoms temporarily improved, but 1 month later, he returned with fever and abdominal pain, and multiple liver lesions were found in the right lobe. Polymerase chain reaction of the aspiration fluid of the liver lesion and pericardial and pleural fluid stored from the previous hospitalization were all positive for E. histolytica. Together with the positive serum antibody for E. histolytica, a diagnosis of amebic pericarditis was made. Notably, the diagnosis was missed initially and was made retrospectively by performing PCR testing. The patient improved with metronidazole 750 mg thrice daily for 14 days, followed by paromomycin 500 mg thrice daily for 10 days. Conclusions: This case suggests that, although only 122 cases of amebic pericarditis have been reported, clinicians should be aware of E. histolytica as a potential causative pathogen. The polymerase chain reaction method was used to detect E. histolytica in the pericardial effusion and was found to be useful for the diagnosis of amebic pericarditis in addition to the positive results for the serum antibody testing for E. histolytica. Because of the high mortality associated with delayed treatment, prompt diagnosis should be made.
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