Yellow Nail Syndrome: A Case Presentation and a Review of Management Options

S D Med. 2021 Aug;74(8):368-371.


Yellow nail syndrome (YNS) has traditionally been thought of as a triad of exudative pleural effusion, yellow nails, and lymphedema. More recently, in addition to the hallmark yellowish nail discoloration, the diagnostic criteria required an associated lymphedema and/or chronic respiratory manifestations including pleural effusions, bronchiectasis or chronic sinusitis. Etiology remains unknown and treatment is supportive and directed towards patient's specific complaints. While described alongside multiple endocrine, lymphatic and autoimmune disorders, its most ominous association is malignancy, raising YNS as a possible paraneoplastic condition. Here we present the case of an 80 years-old female with worsening restrictive airway disease and acquired yellow nails, with development of dyspnea, cough and leg edema. Recurrent exudative lymphocyte predominant pleural effusion was treated definitively with pleurodesis. Her leg edema and yellow nails were treated conservatively. We describe previous case reports and series in the literature, outline therapeutic options and discuss prognosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bronchiectasis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphedema* / diagnosis
  • Lymphedema* / therapy
  • Pleural Effusion* / diagnosis
  • Pleural Effusion* / etiology
  • Pleural Effusion* / therapy
  • Sinusitis*
  • Yellow Nail Syndrome* / complications
  • Yellow Nail Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Yellow Nail Syndrome* / therapy