Natural history and outcomes of patients with liver cirrhosis complicated by hepatic hydrothorax

Sarah Romero, Andy K.H. Lim, Gurpreet Singh, Chamani Kodikara, Rachel Shingaki-Wells, Lynna Chen, Samuel Hui, Marcus Robertson

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3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND Hepatic hydrothorax (HH) is an uncommon and difficult-to-manage complication of cirrhosis with limited treatment options. AIM To define the clinical outcomes of patients presenting with HH managed with current standards-of-care and to identify factors associated with mortality. METHODS Cirrhotic patients with HH presenting to 3 tertiary centres from 2010 to 2018 were retrospectively identified. HH was defined as pleural effusion in the absence of cardiopulmonary disease. The primary outcomes were overall and transplant-free survival at 12-mo after the index admission. Cox proportional hazards analysis was used to determine factors associated with the primary outcomes. RESULTS Overall, 84 patients were included (mean age, 58 years) with a mean model for end-stage liver disease score of 29. Management with diuretics alone achieved long-term resolution of HH in only 12% patients. At least one thoracocentesis was performed in 73.8% patients, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt insertion in 11.9% patients and 33% patients received liver transplantation within 12-mo of index admission. Overall patient survival and transplant-free survival at 12 mo were 68% and 41% respectively. At multivariable analysis, current smoking [hazard ratio (HR) = 8.65, 95% confidence interval (CI): 3.43-21.9, P < 0.001) and acute kidney injury (AKI) (HR = 2.91, 95%CI: 1.21-6.97, P = 0.017) were associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality. CONCLUSION Cirrhotic patients with HH are a challenging population with a poor 12-mo survival despite current treatments. Current smoking and episodes of AKI are potential modifiable factors affecting survival. HH is often refractory of diuretic therapy and transplant assessment should be considered in all cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5175-5187
Number of pages13
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2022


  • Ascites
  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatic hydrothorax
  • Liver transplantation
  • Portal hypertension

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