What is chylothorax?
Chylothorax is a rare condition in which lymphatic fluid leaks into the space between the lung and chest wall. When this fluid builds up in the lungs, it can cause a severe cough, chest pain and difficulty breathing.
Chylothorax is a lymphatic flow disorder. This group of diseases is characterized by abnormal circulation of lymph fluid. Lymph vessels carry lymph fluid to veins, where it returns to the bloodstream, playing a crucial role in immune function and fat and protein transport.
Injury to the thoracic duct (the main lymph vessel), congenital abnormalities, or excessively high venous pressures can result in lymphatic flow problems and leakage of lymphatic fluid into the chest, abdomen or other body cavities.
Why Choose Us?
The Center for Lymphatic Imaging and Interventions at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia provides highly specialized care for children and adults with lymphatic leaks and lymphatic flow disorders.
Treatment for chylothorax
Treatment of chylothorax depends on its cause. At Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), patients are treated by a team of experts who specialize in lymphatic imaging and interventions through the Lymphatic Imaging and Intervention Program. The team will determine the best treatment approach for each patient’s condition.
When lymphatic leaks are found, they can be sealed using two similar lymphatic interventional procedures:
- Thoracic duct embolization, during which the entire thoracic duct is embolized, or sealed shut
- Selective lymphatic duct embolization, a more targeted procedure in which only certain ducts are embolized, sparing the thoracic duct