Pathogenesis and management of hydrothorax complicating peritoneal dialysis

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2004 Jul;10(4):315-9. doi: 10.1097/01.mcp.0000127901.60693.d0.


Purpose of review: Hydrothorax complicating continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) appears in approximately 2% of all patients. Recent advances in minimally invasive surgery have revolutionized the treatment strategy of this condition.

Recent findings: Hydrothorax in CAPD is most commonly secondary to a pleuro-peritoneal communication. Thoracocentesis with biochemical analysis of pleural fluid is the first-line investigation. In uncertain cases, or when there is a clinical need to demonstrate the anatomy of the communication, an imaging approach such as peritoneal scintigraphy is required. Cessation of peritoneal dialysis is indicated if diagnosis of the complication is confirmed. For half of the cases, a conservative approach allows reinstitution of CAPD, presumably because of spontaneous resolution of the leakage. A small-volume exchange is a feasible alternative for children. In patients who failed conservative treatment, video-assisted thoracoscopic pleurodesis or diaphragmatic repair or both allows most of them to continue with CAPD. Chemical pleurodesis is probably indicated for those who failed conservative treatment in centers without video-assisted thoracoscopic support. Currently, only a minority of patients will require open thoracotomy.

Summary: Once hydrothorax secondary to pleuro-peritoneal communication is confirmed in CAPD patients, temporary cessation of peritoneal dialysis remains the first-line treatment. Current evidence shows that video-assisted thoracoscopic pleurodesis or repair should be the treatment of choice in patients who failed conservative management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hydrothorax / etiology*
  • Hydrothorax / therapy*
  • Peritoneal Dialysis, Continuous Ambulatory / adverse effects*
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted
  • Thoracoscopy* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome