Results of thoracic duct ligation in dogs with chylothorax

S J Birchard, D D Smeak, T W Fossum
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 1988 July 1, 193 (1): 68-71
Thoracic duct lymphangiography and ligation were done on 15 dogs with idiopathic chylothorax. Lymphangiography revealed thoracic lymphangiectasia in all dogs; none had a thoracic duct rupture. Lymphangiography immediately after ligation demonstrated missed branches of the thoracic duct in 4 of the 15 dogs. Eleven of the 15 dogs are alive and doing well. Eight of the 11 had no radiographic or clinical signs of pleural effusion (mean follow-up, 31.5 months; range, 4 to 75 months). The other 3 living dogs had persistent effusion; 2 were successfully managed with a pleuroperitoneal shunt (follow-up, 15 months) or pleurodesis (follow-up, 5 months), respectively, and 1 was not treated because the effusion was mild and the dog did not have clinical signs of disease (follow-up, 14 months). Four of the 15 dogs died or were euthanatized because of persistent effusion (mean follow-up, 11.5 months; range, 3 to 24 months). Considering the lack of treatment alternatives for dogs with idiopathic chylothorax, these results support thoracic duct ligation as a treatment method for dogs.

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