October 1984

Spontaneous Chylothorax in Newborns

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Neonatology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.

Am J Dis Child. 1984;138(10):961-964. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1984.02140480063019

• During a 22-year period, 12 cases of spontaneous chylothorax in newborns were diagnosed at a large pediatric tertiary care center. Seven infants had right-sided effusions; only one effusion occurred on the left. Severe bilateral accumulations occurred in four nonimmune hydropic premature infants. The diagnosis was made by the milky appearance and/or the presence of more than 80% lymphocytes in the pleural fluid. Early diagnosis of the pleural effusion as chyle was associated with a less protracted course than when diagnosis was delayed. The total pleural fluid losses varied from 130 to 3,308 mL. Initial treatment included chest taps and/or drains in all the infants and mechanical ventilation in six. Oral feedings with standard or medium-chain triglyceride formulas were given in five; total parenteral nutrition was administered in seven. The conditions of two infants with copious and persistent drainage improved following surgery. All but one infant survived, and the chylothoraxes never recurred.

(AJDC 1984;138:961-964)