Congenital chylothorax: Current evidence-based prenatal and post-natal diagnosis and management

L. C. De Angelis, T. Bellini, M. H. Witte, R. I. Kylat, M. Bernas, F. Boccardo, D. Paladini, G. M. Magnano, L. A. Ramenghi, C. Bellini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Congenital chylothorax is an uncommon condition but represents the main cause of congenital pleural effusion during the neonatal period. It usually appears before birth, both as an isolated disorder or in association with hydrops fetalis, negatively affecting the subsequent neonatal outcome. Prenatal treatment is usually considered to ensure a satisfactory lung development in case of moderate to severe pleural effusion or in the presence of hydrops, although consensus on treatment timing and modalities has not been reached to date. Both medical and surgical therapeutic strategies are available to treat this condition and novel treatment options have been recently attempted with acceptable results in both prenatal and post-natal setting. The heterogeneous clinical presentation of congenital chylothorax together with its rarity, its numerous etiologies and the absence of a highly effective treatment renders the diagnostic and therapeutic approach difficult to standardize. In addition, adequate visualization of the lymphatic system is complex, especially in small neonates, although new promising techniques have been developed lately and may contribute to improved management of this serious but infrequent condition. This review focuses on the current evidence base for the diagnosis and treatment options for congenital chylothorax, suggesting a rational diagnostic and therapeutic approach both in the prenatal and in the neonatal period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-125
Number of pages18
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Congenital chylothorax
  • Diagnosis
  • Evidence-based management
  • Fetal hydrothorax
  • Hydrops
  • Lymphatic system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Hematology


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