Original Article

Hepatology International

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 582-586

First online:

Outcomes of patients with chest tube insertion for hepatic hydrothorax

  • Eric S. OrmanAffiliated withDepartment of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan
  • , Anna S. F. LokAffiliated withDivision of Gastroenterology, University of Michigan Health System Email author 

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Case reports and small case series have reported a high rate of complications associated with chest tube placement for hepatic hydrothorax. We describe the in-hospital and 3-month outcomes of patients who have had this procedure.


A retrospective medical record review was performed of all patients admitted to a tertiary care center over a 10-year period with a chest tube placed for hepatic hydrothorax. Demographic data and outcomes were collected and analyzed.


Seventeen patients were identified; 12 were taking diuretics and 8 were taking multiple diuretics at the time of admission. MELD score was 14 (range = 7–34). During hospitalization, 16 had at least 1 and 12 had more than 1 complications. The most common complications were acute kidney injury (n = 11), pneumothorax (n = 7), and empyema (n = 5). Two patients died during the index admission and four others within 3 months of that admission. Six of seven patients who received TIPS survived.


Chest tube insertion for hepatic hydrothorax carries significant morbidity and mortality, with questionable benefit.


Hepatic hydrothorax Chest tube Cirrhosis Ascites Acute kidney injury