JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Thoracoscopic management of chylothorax complicating esophagectomy.

BACKGROUND: Chylothorax is a relatively uncommon complication of esophageal surgery that may lead to severe respiratory, nutritional, and immunologic deficiencies.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between 1992 and 2000, 3 of 316 patients (0.9%) undergoing transthoracic esophagectomy for carcinoma developed postoperative chylothorax. Two of them had previously been treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiation, and one had been submitted to esophagogastric resection through a left thoracotomy. After a 2-week trial of total parenteral nutrition and drainage, two patients underwent thoracic duct ligation via thoracotomy. In the last patient, the operation was completed by thoracoscopy. The azygos vein and the periaortic tissue above the diaphragm were encircled en bloc by a right-angled clamp, and a roticulating endostapler was applied.

RESULTS: Reoperation was successful in all patients. The postoperative hospital stay was 4 days.

CONCLUSION: Thoracoscopy is a safe and effective procedure for the treatment of chylothorax complicating esophagectomy. Given the minimal trauma to the patient, early thoracoscopic reoperation can be advocated in patients with high-output chyle loss in order to reduce the hospital stay.

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