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.


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: 


In a neonate:

Plain radiograph

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


Simple appearing pleural effusion without debris or septations.


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.

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Article information

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

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