A Laparoscopic Approach to Thoracic Duct Embolization in Dogs with Idiopathic Chylothorax

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is currently recruiting dogs diagnosed with idiopathic chylothorax.

  • Inclusion Criteria:  Any dog with idiopathic chylothorax confirmed by an appropriate diagnostic work up.
  • Treatment  Thoracic duct embolization will be performed with laparoscopic assistance under general anesthesia
  • Costs: The study will cover a maximum of $2,000 towards the cost of anesthesia, surgical procedures, any required medications and hospitalization. Dog owners will be responsible for the costs of the initial examination and diagnostic work-up to confirm idiopathic chylothorax. Owners will be responsible for fees over $2,000. On average idiopathic chylothorax patients are worked up and treated for $3,000-3,500.
  • Contact:  You can contact our Small Animal Hospital by calling 352-392-2235. Dr. J. Brad Case is the Primary Investigator.


Chylothorax is a life-threatening condition in dogs caused by a leaky lymphatic vessel in the chest cavity (called the thoracic duct). Current treatment for this condition involves open chest surgery and often requires the performance of multiple repair techniques to obtain a successful outcome.  In people with chylothorax, these procedures have now been replaced with a much less invasive method, called thoracic duct embolization. During this procedure, a small catheter is placed within a lymphatic vessel in the abdomen, and an artificial clot (embolus) is created to seal off the leaky vessel. Since the chest cavity remains closed during this entire procedure, it is much less invasive than traditional approaches, resulting in less discomfort/pain after surgery and a quicker recovery to normal. Additionally, this technique may even be more effective in treating chylothorax than the traditional repair methods. Thoracic duct embolization has already been successfully performed in dogs, however, a successful minimally-invasive approach to access the lymphatic system prevents its routine use in clinical practice.

The purpose of this study is to show that a minimally-invasive, laparoscopic approach can be used to perform thoracic duct embolization in dogs with idiopathic chylothorax.  We are hoping to replace the current treatment options for chylothorax, which are more invasive and have mixed results, with a procedure that is substantially less invasive, safer, and potentially more effective.