Chylothorax

A chylothorax refers to the presence of chylous fluid in pleural space often as a result of obstruction or disruption to thoracic duct. It may be congenital or acquired.

Aetiology

It can be due to direct injury to the lymphatic ducts or due to obstruction of the ducts and fragile collateral formations which are prone to spontaneous rupture: 

Associations

In a neonate:

Plain radiograph

Increased density of hemithorax with ipsilateral pleural effusion (most common on the left). Less frequently bilateral.

Ultrasound

Simple appearing pleural effusion without debris or septations.

CT

Most of the time, it appears as a simple fluid collection of near water density.

Low output (less than 1000ml/day) is treated conservatively with a low-fat diet. High output usually treated with open or video-assisted ligation. Alternatively, thoracic duct embolization can be performed by an interventional radiologist with a comparable outcome to surgical ligation.

Share article

Article Information

rID: 7328
System: Chest
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Chylothoraces

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and Figures

  • Drag
    Figure 1: chylothorax
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 1
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 2
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.
    Loadinganimation

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.