Chyle Leak After Esophageal Surgery

  • Elena M. Ziarnik
  • Jonathan C. NesbittEmail author


A chyle leak is a challenging complication following esophageal procedures and occurs as a result of injury to the thoracic duct and its collateral lymphatic channels. The problem commonly presents as a postoperative pleural effusion that is rich in triglycerides. Large quantities, > 2 L/d, of chyle can drain from the site of lymph duct injury and can result in significant fluid and nutritional losses. Initial management involves drainage of the effusion, bowel rest, and total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Less common adjuncts to treatment are available, but if conservative measures fail, operative intervention may become necessary. Surgery typically involves access to the right chest cavity with direct ligation of the thoracic duct.


Chyle Chylothorax Chylous effusion Thoracic duct Esophagus Esophagectomy 



Minimally invasive esophagectomy


Nil per os


Total parenteral nutrition


Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Thoracic SurgeryVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Thoracic SurgeryVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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