Chyliform (cholesterol) pleural effusion

Chest. 1985 Sep;88(3):426-8. doi: 10.1378/chest.88.3.426.


Chyliform pleural effusions are a little known occurrence only sparingly reported in the literature. At the lung department in Uppsala, Sweden, 11 cases have been seen the last few years. Typically, the exudate develops in a long-standing pleural thickening resulting from therapeutic pneumothorax many years earlier. The exudate contains a high level of cholesterol, probably breakdown products from blood cells. It is usually sterile, and only very rarely can one find tubercle bacilli growing from it. There is a tendency toward recurrence. If the patient benefits clinically from aspiration of the fluid, decortication is indicated.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Chylothorax
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion / etiology
  • Pleural Effusion / metabolism*
  • Pleural Effusion / therapy
  • Pneumothorax, Artificial / adverse effects
  • Punctures
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / surgery


  • Cholesterol