Incidence and Nutritional Management of Chylothorax after Surgery for Congenital Heart Diseases in Children


  • Jie Zheng, MS Department of Clinical Nutrition, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  • Ying-Yi Chen, BS Department of Clinical Nutrition, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  • Chun-Ying Zhang, MS Department of Laboratory Medicine, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  • Wen-Qian Zhang, BS Department of Clinical Nutrition, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  • Zhi-Yong Rao, MD Department of Clinical Nutrition, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China



chylothorax, enteral nutrition with MCT, total parenteral nutrition, CHD


Background: Chylothorax is caused by thoracic lymphatic system injury that leads to lymph extravasates in the thoracic cavity. Cardiac surgery was the most common cause. Reports comparing therapeutic effects between enteral nutrition (EN) with medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) and total parenteral nutrition (TPN) are few and inconsistent. Our study aimed to analyze the incidence of chylothorax in children in our hospital and optimum nutritional management modalities.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of children admitted to our hospital with a diagnosis of chylothorax from 2014 to 2018. We analyzed the incidence of chylothorax, therapeutic effectiveness, and cost effectiveness of EN with MCT or TPN.

Results: 136 patients with chylothorax after surgery for congenital heart disease (CHD) were identified from 172 patients with chylothorax (79.07%); chylothorax occurred in 5.62% of all 2420 congenital heart disease surgeries that were performed during that period. Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), ventricular septal defect (VSD), and double-outlet right ventricle (DORV) were the most common primary diagnoses. Fontan surgery, TOF repair, and VSD repair were the most common primary procedures. We enrolled 45 patients with cured chylothorax. Nutrition support costs in the EN with MCT group (n = 28) were significantly lower than in the TPN group (n = 17) (P = .000). Time to resolution and time to removal of the drainage tube were shorter in EN with MCT versus TPN (P = .003), and the length of hospital stay was shorter (P = .032). There were no significant differences between the 2 groups in time from admission to surgery, postoperative days before diagnosing chylothorax, or length of PICU stay (P > .05).

Conclusions: The therapeutic effects of EN with MCT were significantly better than those of TPN, with lower costs. Therefore, we suggest that EN with MCT be chosen first to treat chylothorax caused by surgery with mild chest drainage volume when gastrointestinal tract function is allowed.


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How to Cite

Zheng, J., Chen, Y.-Y., Zhang, C.-Y., Zhang, W.-Q., & Rao, Z.-Y. (2020). Incidence and Nutritional Management of Chylothorax after Surgery for Congenital Heart Diseases in Children. The Heart Surgery Forum, 23(6), E902-E906.




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