Background: Chylothorax is a pathological condition associated with a high mortality and morbidity rate. The first observation of chylothorax associated with thoracic vertebral injury was documented by Krabbell in 1885. Since then, several cases have been described in the literature.
Non traumatic chylothorax several years after spine surgery is a rare condition. We described a case of a patient who sustained a thoracic spine fracture-dislocation and presented with a right sided chylothorax as a late complication to his thoracic spine trauma. A right thoracentesis was performed, providing partial relief of respiratory symptoms. The collected fluid was sent to the laboratory for further examination. Biochemical analysis of the milky pleural fluid confirmed the suspicion of chylothorax, with elevated levels of triglycerides and lymphocytes. These findings supported the diagnosis of chylothorax.
Conclusion: Non-traumatic chylothorax occurring several years after spine surgery is a rare condition, and there is limited literature available on this particular pathology. The diagnosis can be simplified through laboratory examination of the milky fluid. Conservative treatment is typically the approach of choice in the majority of cases, involving total parenteral nutrition and the insertion of a chest tube into the chest cavity, followed by chemical pleurodesis.
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