Thoracic surgery clinics


PMID 17004548


Chylothorax is a rare complication of pulmonary resection. It requires prompt treatment, which is initially conservative. This treatment consists of drainage, nutritional support, and measures to diminish chyle flow. Surgical intervention is indicated when conservative management is ineffective. Delay in surgical intervention leads not only to serious metabolic, nutritional, and immunologic disturbances from the loss of chyle but also increases the risk for adhesion formation, loculation, organization, and infection of the chylothorax, making subsequent surgical attempts difficult and increasing postoperative morbidity and mortality. VATS provides a minimally invasive approach for the treatment of chylothorax complicating pulmonary resection. Clipping of the thoracic duct or chemical pleurodesis may be performed with minimal morbidity and mortality. Conservative treatment is expensive and fails in most patients who have high-output chylous fistulae. On the other hand, VATS is uniformly effective, is less expensive, and has low morbidity. Indeed, VATS is rapidly becoming the preferred approach for the management of chylothorax complicating pulmonary resection. The need to prevent the occurrence of a chylothorax by careful dissection techniques and liberal clipping of lymphatic vessels particularly in areas of high anatomic risk during the initial operation cannot be overemphasized.

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