Pseudochylothorax. Report of 2 cases and review of the literature

Medicine (Baltimore). 1999 May;78(3):200-7. doi: 10.1097/00005792-199905000-00006.


We report 2 cases of pseudochylothorax and review 172 published cases. Tuberculosis is by far the most frequent cause of pseudochylothorax, accounting for 54% of all caes, with a remarkable association with previous collapse therapy and long-term effusions. The remaining etiologies, including rheumatoid arthritis, are infrequent. Tuberculous pseudochylothorax is usually sterile. Successful treatment of an acute tuberculous pleurisy does not preclude the development of long-term complications such as pseudochylothorax. We do not recommend pleural biopsy initially because of its low yield for etiologic diagnosis. Currently, adenosine deaminase (ADA) values in pleural fluid are not useful to sustain diagnosis or therapeutic decisions. We advise draining only symptomatic cases and treating patients with positive Ziehl-Neelsen stain or Lowenstein culture, and those with growing effusions of suspected tuberculous origin, with antituberculous chemotherapy. Pulmonary decortication should be the last therapeutic step for recurrent and symptomatic cases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Cholesterol / analysis
  • Chylothorax / diagnosis*
  • Chylothorax / etiology*
  • Chylothorax / therapy
  • Drainage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnosis*
  • Pleural Effusion / etiology*
  • Pleural Effusion / therapy
  • Tuberculosis, Pleural / complications
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / complications


  • Cholesterol