Treatment of Chylothorax complicating pulmonary resection with hypertonic glucose Pleurodesis

J Cardiothorac Surg. 2021 May 28;16(1):149. doi: 10.1186/s13019-021-01462-6.


Background: To retrospectively assess the efficacy of hypertonic glucose pleurodesis for treatment of chylothorax after pulmonary resection.

Methods: Out of a total of 8252 patients who underwent pulmonary resection (at least lobectomy) at department of thoracic surgery, between June 2008 and December 2015, 58 patients (0.7%) developed postoperative chylothorax. All patients received conservative treatment, including thoracic closed drainage, oral fasting, and total parenteral nutrition.

Results: Conservative treatment was successful in 50 (86.2%) patients, while eight patients [mean age: 58.0 years (range, 45-75)] were treated with hypertonic glucose pleurodesis. All eight patients had undergone operation for lung cancer (four squamous cell carcinomas and four adenocarcinomas). The bronchial stump was covered by pleural flap in three patients. After pleurodesis, three patients developed fever but without empyema; thoracentesis was performed in two patients. The mean time interval between pleurodesis and operation was 4.3 days (range,3-5) days. The average length of stay was 23.1 days (range, 18-31). No recurrent pleural effusion was observed over a mean follow-up duration of 28 months.

Conclusion: Hypertonic glucose pleurodesis performed via the chest drainage tube is a viable treatment option for chylothorax after lung resection, prior to resorting to a thoracoscopic or thoracotomic ductus thoracicus ligation of the thoracic duct leak. It is a simple, safe and efficient modality associated with rapid recovery and less pain.

Keywords: Chylothorax; hypertonic glucose; Pleurodesis; Pneumonectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Chest Tubes
  • Chylothorax / diagnostic imaging
  • Chylothorax / etiology
  • Chylothorax / therapy*
  • Drainage
  • Glucose Solution, Hypertonic / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleurodesis / methods*
  • Pneumonectomy / adverse effects*
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Pulmonary Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Duct / surgery


  • Glucose Solution, Hypertonic