Chylothorax after abdominal surgery

Salvatore Griffo, Giuseppe DeLuca, Paolo Stassano

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Chylothorax is usually a complication of thoracic surgery procedures. Over a 5-year period we encountered three cases of chylothorax following abdominal surgery performed in general surgery units. The initial effusions, not lactescent, were ascribed to a pleural reaction that sometimes is observed during the postoperative period after abdominal surgery. Once the diagnosis was established, the initial conservative treatment failed, and surgery was necessary. In our patients, their debilitated physical condition precluded a thoracotomy approach. A video-assisted thoracoscopy procedure was undertaken, but the extensive pleural effusions, caused in part by the delay in the diagnosis, prevented the exact localization of the duct and its closure. Talc pleurodesis was successfully employed in all patients. Even after abdominal surgery, a persistent pleural effusion should always induce us to suspect a chylothorax.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-162
Number of pages4
JournalGeneral Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Abdominal surgery
  • Chylothorax
  • Talc pleurodesis
  • Videoassisted thoracoscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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