Chylothorax Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Nov 20, 2020
  • Author: Sasha D Adams, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Important considerations

The timing of surgical management is controversial and depends on the etiology of the chylothorax and the patient's overall condition.

Patients with postesophagectomy chylothorax have a 50-82% mortality rate if treated conservatively.

A malignant etiology of the chylothorax must be ruled out, as greater than 50% of cases are due to malignancy, of which lymphoma accounts for approximately 75% of cases, followed by lung carcinoma.

Other conditions to be considered

Other conditions to consider in patients with suspected chylothorax include the following:

  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related complex

  • Congestive heart failure

  • Exudative pleural effusion

  • Malignant pleural effusion

  • Pseudochylothorax

Differential Diagnoses