Hepatic hydrothorax: Pathophysiology diagnosis and management


Dr Anastasios Roussos, Gastroenterology Clinic, Evangelismos Hospital, Athens, Greece. Email: aroussos1971@yahoo.gr


Hepatic hydrothorax is defined as a significant pleural effusion (usually greater than 500 ml) in a cirrhotic patient, without an underlying pulmonary or cardiac disease. The diagnosis of hepatic hydrothorax should be suspected in a patient with established cirrhosis and portal hypertension, presenting with a unilateral pleural effusion, most commonly right-sided. In the vast majority of cases, patients with hepatic hydrothorax have end-stage liver disease. Therefore, they should be considered potential candidates for orthotopic liver transplantation. Until the performance of transplantation, other therapeutic modalities should be applied in order to relieve symptoms and prevent pulmonary complications.