Evidence-based review of the management of hepatic hydrothorax

Respiration. 2013;86(2):155-73. doi: 10.1159/000346996. Epub 2013 Apr 4.


Hepatic hydrothorax (HH) is an example of a porous diaphragm syndrome. Portal hypertension results in the formation of ascitic fluid which moves across defects in the diaphragm and accumulates in the pleural space. Consequently, the treatment approach to HH consists of measures to reduce the formation of ascitic fluid, prevent the movement of ascitic fluid across the diaphragm, and drain or obliterate the pleural space. Approximately 21-26% of cases of HH are refractory to salt and fluid restriction and diuretics and warrant consideration of additional treatment measures. Ideally, liver transplantation is the best treatment option; however, most of the patients are not candidates and most of those who are eligible die while waiting for a transplant. Treatment measures other than liver transplantation may not only provide relief from dyspnea but also improve patient survival and serve as a bridge to liver transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Management*
  • Humans
  • Hydrothorax / etiology
  • Hydrothorax / therapy*
  • Hypertension, Portal / complications*
  • Hypertension, Portal / therapy
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / therapy
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Pleural Effusion / etiology
  • Pleural Effusion / therapy*