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 ¤ Case Report
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 Table of Contents     
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 102-103

Laparoscopic management of chyle leak after Nissen fundoplication

Department of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery, The Royal Berkshire Hospital, London Road, Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom

Date of Submission08-Sep-2011
Date of Acceptance09-Sep-2011
Date of Web Publication29-Jun-2012

Correspondence Address:
James R Ramus
Department of General Surgery, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Kempston Road, Bedford
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-9941.97600

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 ¤ Abstract 

A 41-year-old man presented with chylous ascites 6 weeks after a laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. The chyle leak was successfully treated with laparoscopic ligation of the leaking duct at the right crus. We would now recommend early consideration of this as a treatment option for this rare complication.

Keywords: Chyle leak, laparoscopic, Nissen fundoplication

How to cite this article:
Powell G, Ramus JR, Booth MI. Laparoscopic management of chyle leak after Nissen fundoplication. J Min Access Surg 2012;8:102-3

How to cite this URL:
Powell G, Ramus JR, Booth MI. Laparoscopic management of chyle leak after Nissen fundoplication. J Min Access Surg [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Sep 27];8:102-3. Available from:

 ¤ Introduction Top

Chyle leak is a well-documented complication of oesophagectomy, usually as a result of inadvertent damage to the thoracic duct during dissection of middle third tumours in the chest. [1] Two cases of chylous ascites complicating a laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication have been reported in the literature. [2],[3] One was successfully managed conservatively and the other failed a trial of conservative therapy and required an explorative laparotomy. We report a case of chyle leak after laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication successfully treated with laparoscopic ligation of the leaking duct at the right crus.

 ¤ Case Report Top

A 41-year-old man with a history of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease refractory to medical therapy and confirmed on pH studies underwent an elective laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. A pneumoperitoneum was established with a Veress needle and a 4-port approach used. The crura were dissected with a harmonic scalpel and a posterior hiatal repair performed with 2 ethibond (0) sutures. There were no perioperative or postoperative complications and the patient was discharged on day 2.

Six weeks later the patient represented with a grossly distended, painful abdomen. A computed tomography scan confirmed the presence of free fluid throughout the abdomen and pelvis. An ascitic tap yielded 15 mL of milky white fluid. Following this, an ascitic drain was inserted under radiologic guidance and 3 L of chylous fluid drained immediately. Total parenteral nutrition was commenced and enteral feeding withheld for 14 days. Despite this, chyle drainage remained high at 300-400 mL per day and attempts to reintroduce a medium chain triglyceride diet were unsuccessful.

After 3 weeks of conservative management the patient was re-explored laparoscopically. He was given 250 mL of full fat cream 2 h pre-operatively in order to facilitate identification of the leaking duct. At operation an active chyle leak was easily identified at the apex of the right crus. Two metal ligaclips were applied to each side of the defect with immediate cessation of the leak [Figure 1]. A drain was left in situ.
Figure 1: Intraoperative view of application of ligaclips to leaking duct

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Total parenteral nutrition was continued for a further 24 h and then weaned off as a normal diet was introduced. No further chyle appeared in the intra-abdominal drain and this was subsequently removed on day 5 post-re-laparoscopy. The patient was discharged on day 6 and remains well at 6 months follow-up.

 ¤ Discussion Top

Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication is a safe and effective procedure for treatment of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. There are, however, potential complications of the procedure related to dissection of the oesophageal hiatus, including pneumothorax, haemorrhage, oesophageal or gastric perforation, vagal injury, paraoesophageal herniation and gastric volvulus. [4]

Chylous ascites complicating fundoplication is extremely uncommon, probably because the cysterna chyli usually lies posterior to the field of dissection. However, the cysterna chyli varies enormously in location, origin and morphology [5] and for this reason it is possible that the lymphatics are more prone to iatrogenic injury in some individuals. Different mechanisms of lymphatic injury have been proposed in previous reports. These include diathermy injury, retro-oesophageal dissection that extends too far posteriorly, damage to the lymphatics during mobilization and retraction of the oesophagus, and thoracic duct obstruction complicating a pre-existing congenital defect. [2],[3]

Of the 2 previous cases, 1 was successfully managed with total parenteral nutrition alone whilst the other required a laparotomy at 6 weeks. [2],[3] To our knowledge this is the first case report of successful laparoscopic management of a chyle leak post fundoplication. Indeed laparoscopic identification and closure of the point of chyle leakage was unexpectedly straightforward, and we would now recommend early consideration of this technique for this rare complication.

 ¤ References Top

1.Lamb PJ, Dresner SM, Robinson S, Griffin SM. Chylous ascites complicating esophagectomy. Dis Esophagus 2001;14:67-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Bacelar TS, de Albuquerque AC, de Arruda PC, Ferraz AA, Ferraz EM. Postoperative chylous ascites: A rare complication of laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. JSLS 2003;7:269-71.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Slim K, Pezet D, Chipponi J. Development of chylous ascites after laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. Eur J Surg 1997;163:793-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Perdikis G, Hinder RA, Lund RJ, Raiser F, Katada N. Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication: Where do we stand? Surg Laparosc Endosc 1997;7:17-21.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Loukas M, Wartmann CT, Louis RG Jr, Tubbs RS, Salter EG, Gupta AA, et al. Cisterna chyli: A Detailed anatomic investigation. Clin Anat 2007;20:683-8.  Back to cited text no. 5


  [Figure 1]

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