Chylous ascites after post-chemotherapy retroperitoneal lymph node dissection: review of the M. D. Anderson experience

James G Evans, Philippe E Spiess, Ashish M Kamat, Christopher G Wood, Mike Hernandez, Curtis A Pettaway, Colin P N Dinney, Louis L Pisters
Journal of Urology 2006, 176 (4 Pt 1): 1463-7

PURPOSE: We determined the clinical presentation, risk factors and optimal treatment of chylous ascites that develop after retroperitoneal lymph node dissection in patients with testicular cancer.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the records of 329 patients who underwent post-chemotherapy retroperitoneal lymph node dissection at our institution, of whom 23 (7%) had chylous ascites postoperatively. Clinical and pathological parameters were entered into a database.

RESULTS: Mean patient age at chylous ascites presentation was 32.1 years. On univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses increasing amounts of preoperative chemotherapy (OR 1.24) and intraoperative blood loss (OR 1.33) were predictive of chylous ascites. The clinical presentation of chylous ascites consisted of abdominal fullness and distention in all patients. Initial treatment was paracentesis alone or combined with total parenteral nutrition in 77% of patients. An abdominal drain was used for persistent ascites in 10 patients. In patients treated conservatively the rate of resolution of chylous ascites was 77%. Only 23% of patients required peritoneovenous shunt placement. However, shunt use was associated with an 80% surgical revision rate.

CONCLUSIONS: Conservative treatment resolves most cases of postoperative chylous ascites. An abdominal catheter drain should be considered for significant or recurring chylous ascites. When a peritoneovenous shunt is required, it may be needed for an extensive period for resolution and there are significant complications associated with its use. Increasing amounts of preoperative chemotherapy and operative blood loss raise the likelihood of chylous ascites.

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