Pigtail Catheter: a Less Invasive Option for Pleural Drainage of Recurrent Hepatic Hydrothorax

  • End date
    Dec 21, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Sherief Abd-Elsalam
Updated on 21 January 2021
serum protein
pleural fluid analysis


The effectiveness of pigtail catheter as a less invasive option for pleural drainage in patients with resistant hepatic hydrothorax.


Hepatic hydrothorax (HH) is defined as a transudative pleural effusion in patients with liver cirrhosis in the absence of cardiopulmonary disease. The estimated prevalence among patients with liver cirrhosis is approximately 5-6% (Baikati et al., 2014).

HH is an infrequent but a well-known complication of portal hypertension. Trans-diaphragmatic passage of ascitic fluid from peritoneal to the pleural cavity through numerous diaphragmatic defects has been shown to be the predominant mechanism in the formation of HH (Kumar&Kumar, 2014).

Patients with hepatic hydrothoraces often have few options (Goto et al., 2011). Diuretic-resistant HH could be managed with liver transplantation, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) or indwelling pleural catheters. However, tube thoracotomy and pleurodesis failed in most patients (Singh et al., 2013).

Case reports and small case series have reported a high rate of complications associated with chest tube placement for hepatic hydrothorax. The most common reported complications were acute kidney injury, pneumothorax, and empyema. Death has been recorded in some cases. Chest tube insertion for hepatic hydrothorax carries significant morbidity and mortality, with questionable benefit (Orman&Lok, 2009).

Pigtail catheter insertion is an effective and safe method of draining pleural fluid. Its use is safe and recommended for all cases of pleural effusion requiring chest drain except for empyema and other loculated effusions that yielded low success rate (Bediwy and Amer, 2012).

Condition Pleural disorder, Pleural Diseases, Pleural Effusion, Pleural Effusion, Pleural Diseases, pleural effusions
Treatment Pigtail catheter
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT02119169
SponsorSherief Abd-Elsalam
Last Modified on21 January 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Patients with cirrhotic liver and recurrent pleural effusion
Pleural fluid should be transudate according to Light's criteria
Pleural fluid-to-serum protein ratio less than 0.5
Pleural fluid lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) less than 200 IU
Pleural fluid-to-serum LDH ratio and pleural fluid-to-high normal serum LDH ratio less than 0.6

Exclusion Criteria

Diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma or other neoplasm able to shorten life expectancy
Congestive heart failure
Recent (i.e. within the previous 2 weeks) episode of digestive hemorrhage
Exudative pleural effusion
Ascitic fluid or pleural fluid infection
Platelet count below 50,000
Prothrombin activity below 50%
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