Chylopericardium in adults: A literature review over the past decade (1996-2006)

Chadi Dib, A. Jamil Tajik, Soon Park, Mohammed E.L. Kheir, Bijoy Khandieria, Farouk Mookadam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Objectives: We present a systematic overview of the literature on reported cases of chylous pericardial effusion in adults over the past 10 years, assessing clinical presentation, etiology, diagnosis, and treatment. Methods: We conducted an evidence-based literature review searching for all reported adult cases of chylopericardium in the past 10 years (January 1996-December 2006). Results: A total of 33 reported cases of chylopericardium were identified through a systematic literature search. There was no gender bias in the incidence of chylous pericardial effusion. Age at diagnosis varied from 18 to 68 years with a mean ± standard deviation of 36.78 ± 14.71 years. Time from symptom onset to diagnosis was variable (ranging from acute presentation to several years).The most common reported etiology was idiopathic. The diagnosis was made by pericardiocentesis in all patients. A search for secondary causes included computed tomography of the chest, lymphoscintigraphy, and lymphangiography along with radioactive oral 131I-triolein. Conservative therapy was prescribed in 28 patients and failed in 16, in whom subsequent surgery was necessary. Overall, 21 patients underwent various types of surgery. Thoracic duct ligation with creation of a pericardial window was the most common surgical procedure. Conclusion: Chylopericardium is a rare entity. The fluid appearance, triglyceride content, cytologic characteristics, and negative cultures are crucial to make the correct diagnosis. Treatment is dependent on the etiology. Surgical management is the most successful. Conservative therapy is reserved for patients with idiopathic chylopericardium, those with an untreatable etiology, those considered at high risk for surgical treatment, or those with a predictably short lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-656
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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