Traumatic lymphorrhea is a rare but potentially life-threatening complication. Postoperative lymphorrhea is the leading cause of traumatic lymphorrhea and can arise anywhere within the lymphatic system. Leaks arising from the aortoiliac region to the thoracic duct (TD) and from hepatic lymphatics can be identified with intranodal lymphangiography and transhepatic lymphangiography, respectively. Therefore, an appropriate lymphangiography technique is essential for identifying the sources of leaks. Chylothorax resulting from damage to the TD can be serious because the TD transports large amounts of lymphatic fluid from the gastrointestinal, hepatic, and aortoiliac regions. Percutaneous TD embolization—comprising access to the TD followed by embolization—has recently become a minimally invasive alternative to surgical TD ligation for high-output chylothorax. The selection of access routes to the TD depends on its anatomy. If the TD cannot be approached by such means, other options include TD needle interruption or drainage of lymphatic fluid adjacent to the leakage point followed by sclerotherapy. Most cases of abdominal lymphorrhea arise from the aorta-iliac lymphatic system, and lymphangiography alone or computed tomography–guided sclerotherapy might be useful. Rarely, leakage may arise from hepatic lymphatics due to a damaged gastroduodenal ligament and can be visualized and embolized transhepatically. This article comprehensively reviews clinically relevant anatomic TD variations, lymphangiography techniques and criteria for their selection, and treatment strategies for lymphorrhea.
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