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ICD-10 I89.8, J91
ICD-9 457.8, 511.9
DiseasesDB 29612
eMedicine med/381 
MeSH D002916

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A chylothorax is a type of pleural effusion. It results from lymphatic fluid accumulating in the pleural cavity.

Historical Perspective




Its cause is usually leakage from the thoracic duct or one of the main lymphatic vessels that drain to it. The most common causes are lymphoma and trauma caused by thoracic surgery. The effusion is characteristically white and milky in appearance and contains high levels of triglycerides.

In animals, chylothorax usually results from diseases that cause obstruction to the thoracic duct preventing lymph from draining normally into the venous system. Examples include tumors, heartworm disease, right sided cardiac failure, or idiopathic lymphangiectasia. The most effective form of treatment is surgical ligation of the thoracic duct combined with partial pericardectomy.[1]

Differential Diagnosis

Epidemiology and Demographics

  • The prevalence of [disease name] is approximately [number or range] per 100,000 individuals worldwide.
  • In [year], the incidence of [disease name] was estimated to be [number or range] cases per 100,000 individuals in [location].


  • Patients of all age groups may develop [disease name].
  • [Disease name] is more commonly observed among patients aged [age range] years old.
  • [Disease name] is more commonly observed among [elderly patients/young patients/children].


  • [Disease name] affects men and women equally.
  • [Gender 1] are more commonly affected with [disease name] than [gender 2].
  • The [gender 1] to [Gender 2] ratio is approximately [number > 1] to 1.


  • There is no racial predilection for [disease name].
  • [Disease name] usually affects individuals of the [race 1] race.
  • [Race 2] individuals are less likely to develop [disease name].

Risk Factors

  • Common risk factors in the development of [disease name] are [risk factor 1], [risk factor 2], [risk factor 3], and [risk factor 4].

Natural History, Complications and Prognosis

  • The majority of patients with [disease name] remain asymptomatic for [duration/years].
  • Early clinical features include [manifestation 1], [manifestation 2], and [manifestation 3].
  • If left untreated, [#%] of patients with [disease name] may progress to develop [manifestation 1], [manifestation 2], and [manifestation 3].
  • Common complications of [disease name] include [complication 1], [complication 2], and [complication 3].
  • Prognosis is generally [excellent/good/poor], and the [1/5/10­year mortality/survival rate] of patients with [disease name] is approximately [#%].


Diagnostic Criteria

  • The diagnosis of [disease name] is made when at least [number] of the following [number] diagnostic criteria are met:
  • [criterion 1]
  • [criterion 2]
  • [criterion 3]
  • [criterion 4]


  • [Disease name] is usually asymptomatic.
  • Symptoms of [disease name] may include the following:
  • [symptom 1]
  • [symptom 2]
  • [symptom 3]
  • [symptom 4]
  • [symptom 5]
  • [symptom 6]

Physical Examination

  • Patients with [disease name] usually appear [general appearance].
  • Physical examination may be remarkable for:
  • [finding 1]
  • [finding 2]
  • [finding 3]
  • [finding 4]
  • [finding 5]
  • [finding 6]

Laboratory Findings

  • There are no specific laboratory findings associated with [disease name].
  • A [positive/negative] [test name] is diagnostic of [disease name].
  • An [elevated/reduced] concentration of [serum/blood/urinary/CSF/other] [lab test] is diagnostic of [disease name].
  • Other laboratory findings consistent with the diagnosis of [disease name] include [abnormal test 1], [abnormal test 2], and [abnormal test 3].

Imaging Findings

  • There are no [imaging study] findings associated with [disease name].
  • [Imaging study 1] is the imaging modality of choice for [disease name].
  • On [imaging study 1], [disease name] is characterized by [finding 1], [finding 2], and [finding 3].
  • [Imaging study 2] may demonstrate [finding 1], [finding 2], and [finding 3].

Other Diagnostic Studies

  • [Disease name] may also be diagnosed using [diagnostic study name].
  • Findings on [diagnostic study name] include [finding 1], [finding 2], and [finding 3].


Medical Therapy

  • There is no treatment for [disease name]; the mainstay of therapy is supportive care.
  • The mainstay of therapy for [disease name] is [medical therapy 1] and [medical therapy 2].
  • [Medical therapy 1] acts by [mechanism of action 1].
  • Response to [medical therapy 1] can be monitored with [test/physical finding/imaging] every [frequency/duration].


  • Surgery is the mainstay of therapy for [disease name].
  • [Surgical procedure] in conjunction with [chemotherapy/radiation] is the most common approach to the treatment of [disease name].
  • [Surgical procedure] can only be performed for patients with [disease stage] [disease name].


  • There are no primary preventive measures available for [disease name].
  • Effective measures for the primary prevention of [disease name] include [measure1], [measure2], and [measure3].
  • Once diagnosed and successfully treated, patients with [disease name] are followed-up every [duration]. Follow-up testing includes [test 1], [test 2], and [test 3].

See also


  1. Birchard SJ, Smeak DD, McLoughlin MA (1998). "Treatment of idiopathic chylothorax in dogs and cats". J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 212 (5): 652–7. PMID 9524635. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  2. Sailer, Christian, Wasner, Susanne. Differential Diagnosis Pocket. Hermosa Beach, CA: Borm Bruckmeir Publishing LLC, 2002:77 ISBN 1591032016
  3. Kahan, Scott, Smith, Ellen G. In A Page: Signs and Symptoms. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004:68 ISBN 140510368X

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