Patients with cirrhosis of the liver have increased hepatic and gastrointestinal lymph flow that may contribute to the formation of ascites and pleural effusions. Increased lymph flow, which is due to postsinusoidal portal hypertension, causes a high rate of flow through the thoracic duct. Because of the high flow rates, disrupted lymphatic vessels in patients with cirrhosis of the liver may fail to close, a situation that results in chylous ascites, pleural effusions, or chylous fistulas. Chylous fistulas deplete proteins, fluid, and lymphocytes and thus lead to volume depletion and coagulopathy. Herein we describe an un-usual case in which a high-output traumatic thoracic duct-cutaneous fistula developed in a patient with cirrhosis and led to volume depletion and coagulopathy. Correction of the portal hypertension with placement of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt led to closure of the fistula and normalization of accompanying metabolic abnormalities.
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