Chylous Ascites

Chylous Ascites - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Chylous Ascites is a medical condition where lymphatic fluid accumulates in the abdomen of a person, leading to the swelling of the abdomen to an embarrassing size. It can be a source of extreme discomfort and distress to the patient as the surrounding organs are compressed with the accumulation of fluid. It is also known as chyloperitoneum.

There is no known cause of this condition. It can be caused by an underlying infection to the abdominal area, or it can be caused by a malignancy in the abdominal area, specifically lymphoma. It is more common in people who are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. It is also more commonly seen in patients who have had digestive surgeries, especially those involving the small intestine or the lymph nodes.

The main symptom that points to the possibility of chylous ascites is the swelling in the abdominal area which can’t be explained by any other medical condition. Other symptoms that can accompany this include abdominal discomfort due to the swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Patients may also experience a loss of appetite and weight loss due to the malabsorption of nutrients in the small intestine.

Doctors can often diagnose this condition through a physical examination. They may also utilize imaging tests, such as CT scans, X-rays, and ultrasounds, to get a clearer picture of what is going on inside the patient. A laboratory test may be done to identify which organism is causing an infection, if one is present. A lymph node biopsy may also be done to identify if a malignancy is present.


The primary treatment for chylous ascites is to treat the underlying cause. If the cause is an underlying infection, then medication is usually prescribed such as antibiotics to treat the infection. If the cause is a malignancy, then the patient will usually need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment depending on the type of tumor.

Other treatments may also help reduce the discomfort associated with chylous ascites. A low-fat diet may be recommended to help reduce the amount of fat in the lymphatic fluid, allowing it to drain more easily. Additionally, diuretics can be taken to help the body excrete more of the accumulated fluid. Finally, surgery to remove the accumulated fluid may be recommended if other treatments have not been successful.


The best way to prevent chylous ascites is to get regular check-ups and pay attention to any signs of infection or malignancy. If an underlying condition is present, it is essential to receive treatment as soon as possible to prevent the accumulation of the lymphatic fluid.