Primary fetal hydrothorax

A primary fetal hydrothorax (PFHT) is a rare situation and refers to a primary accumulation of fetal pleural fluid without any underlying abnormality. It can present with a wide spectrum of severity and can be uni or bilateral.

The estimated prevalence is at ~ 1:10,000-15,000 pregnancies. There may be a greater male predilection.

It is often characerterised by a collection of chyle within the pleural cavity.

There may be an increased incidence on the right side

  • lymphovascular malformations 6

It is often a diagnosis of exclusion.

Ultrasound may show a fetal pleural effusion without any other associated sonographic abnormality. In some cases with dominant hydrothorax to one side, the fetal heart may be displaced to the opposite side. 

Recognised complications include

The clinical course can be extremely variable. In selected cases a pleuro-amniotic shunt can be considered 6.

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Article information

rID: 13475
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Primary fetal hydrothorax (PFHT)
  • Congenital primary hydrothorax

Cases and figures

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