Thoracic duct embolization in treating postoperative chylothorax: does bail-out retrograde access improve outcomes?

Hoyong Jun, Saebeom Hur, Yun Soo Jeong, Chang Hyun Kang, Hyukjoon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To evaluate clinical outcomes of thoracic duct embolization (TDE) for the management of postoperative chylothorax with the aid of the bail-out retrograde approach for thoracic duct cannulation (TDC). Materials and methods: Forty-five patients with postoperative chylothorax underwent Lipiodol lymphangiography (LLG) between February 2016 and November 2019. If targetable central lymphatic vessels were identified in LLG, TDC, a prerequisite for TDE, was attempted. While the conventional antegrade transabdominal approach was the standard TDC method, the retrograde approach was applied as a bail-out method. Embolization, the last step of TDE, was performed after confirming leakages in the trans-TDC catheter lymphangiography. Technical and clinical success rates were determined retrospectively. Results: TDC was attempted in 40 among 45 patients based on LLG findings. The technical success rate of TDC with the conventional antegrade approach was 78% (31/40). In addition, six more patients were cannulated using the bail-out retrograde approach, which raised the technical success rate to 93% (37/40). While 35 patients underwent embolization (TDE group), ten patients did not (non-TDE group) for the following reasons: (1) lack of targetable lymphatics for TDC in LLG (n = 5), (2) technical failure of TDC (n = 3), and (3) lack of discernible leakages in the transcatheter lymphangiography (n = 2). The clinical success of the TDE group was 89% (31/35), compared with 50% (5/10) of the non-TDE group. One major procedure-related complication was bile peritonitis caused by the needle passage of the distended gallbladder. Conclusions: Bail-out retrograde approach for TDC could improve the overall technical success of TDC significantly. Key Points: • Bail-out retrograde thoracic duct access may improve the overall technical success of thoracic duct access, thus improving the clinical success of thoracic duct embolization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-383
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Chylothorax
  • Embolization, Therapeutic
  • Thoracic duct


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