Management of refractory chylous ascites with peritoneovenous shunts

Ying Huang, Peter Gloviczki, Audra A. Duncan, Mark D. Fleming, David J. Driscoll, Manju Kalra, Gustavo S. Oderich, Thomas C. Bower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective The purpose of this study was to define outcome of treatments of refractory chylous ascites using peritoneovenous shunts (PVSs). Methods Clinical data of patients with refractory chylous ascites treated with PVSs between 1992 and 2015 were retrospectively reviewed. The primary end point was clinical benefit, defined as cured, improved, or poor results; secondary end points were complications and reinterventions. Results Seventeen patients (eight female [47%]; median age, 47 years [range, 19-78 years]) with refractory chylous ascites were studied. This group represented 6% of 284 patients treated for chylous ascites during the study period. The etiology was primary lymphangiectasia in 10 patients (59%) and secondary chylous ascites due to previous surgery, lymphatic obstruction with associated portal hypertension, or malignant tumor in 7 (41%). Eleven patients were treated with LeVeen shunts and six with Denver shunts. Thirty-day mortality, morbidity, and reintervention rates were 5.9%, 18%, and 12%, respectively. Reintervention rate at 6 months was 9.1% with LeVeen shunt, significantly lower than 100% with Denver shunt (P = .001). During a mean follow-up of 5.1 years (range, 17 days-22.7 years), 7 of 11 patients with LeVeen shunt and all 6 patients with Denver shunt required shunt replacement. Median duration of patency was 215 days (range, 2 days-9.0 years) of a total of 25 LeVeen shunts placed in 11 patients and 44 days (range, 6-91 days) of 20 Denver shunts placed in 6 patients. At last follow-up, patency of the LeVeen shunt was 36% (4/11); symptoms improved in 64% of the patients (7/11). Patency rate of Denver shunts was 33% (2/6), and symptoms improved in 33% (2/6). Conclusions Treatment of refractory chylous ascites continues to be a major challenge. The only currently available PVS, the Denver shunt, had a median patency period of <2 months; it required frequent replacements and resulted in intermittent short-term clinical benefit in one-third of the patients. Improvements in technology to design new shunts, to develop new therapies, or to adopt new techniques to treat chylous ascites are urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-546
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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