Case: Define chylothorax and describe different treatment modalities?
Answer: Chylothorax is defined as triglycerides more than 113 mg/dl (1.24 mmol/L) in pleural cavity.
A number of therapeutic interventions have been used to reduce chyle production and promote resolution of a chylothorax. Initial management typically includes restriction or temporary cessation of enteral feedings. Enteral feedings high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), or parenteral nutrition may be used. Total parenteral nutrition typically results in resolution in 75 to 80% of cases by that time. In resistant cases, pleurodesis, ligation of the thoracic duct, or placement of drains and pleuroperitoneal shunts may be considered.
Octreotide has become another option for management of patients with chylothorax. Although the exact mechanism by which the drug exerts its effects has not been defined, it is believed that the multiple effects of octreotide on the gastrointestinal tract and the reduction in splanchnic blood flow reduce thoracic duct flow and decrease the triglyceride content of chyle.