Hepatic hydrothorax

Robert M. Strauss, Thomas D. Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


Ascites is a common manifestation of portal hypertension in patients with cirrhosis. Approximately 5% of patients with cirrhosis may develop a pleural effusion. This is usually right sided. In the absence of cardiac or lung disease, the presence of a pleural effusion in a cirrhotic patient is known as hepatic hydrothorax. Small volumes of fluid within the pleura may be associated with significant respiratory symptoms which require the clinician to rapidly remove the fluid. The development of hepatic hydrothorax is secondary to passage of ascites from the abdomen to the pleural space via defects in the diaphragm. Once the diagnosis of hepatic hydrothorax is established with certainty, medical therapy with salt restriction and diuretics is initiated. When these measures are ineffective the patient has refractory hepatic hydrothorax. Based on current studies, transjugular intrahepatic portal systemic shunts appear to be the most effective form of treatment for these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-232
Number of pages6
JournalSeminars in Liver Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Ascites
  • Hepatic hydrothorax
  • Intraperitoneal Tcm sulfur colloid
  • Peritoneovenous shunt
  • Therapeutic thoracentesis
  • Trans-jugular intrahepatic portal systemic shunt (TIPS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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