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International Journal of Otolaryngology
Volume 2017, Article ID 8362874, 12 pages
Review Article

Management of Chyle Leak after Head and Neck Surgery: Review of Current Treatment Strategies

1Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, 1540 Alcazar St, Suite 204Q, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA
2Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Sean W. Delaney; moc.liamg@yenaledwnaes

Received 13 September 2016; Accepted 7 December 2016; Published 19 January 2017

Academic Editor: Jan Betka

Copyright © 2017 Sean W. Delaney et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Chyle leak formation is an uncommon but serious sequela of head and neck surgery when the thoracic duct is inadvertently injured, particularly with the resection of malignancy low in the neck. The thoracic duct is the primary structure that returns lymph and chyle from the entire left and right lower half of the body. Chyle extravasation can result in delayed wound healing, dehydration, malnutrition, electrolyte disturbances, and immunosuppression. Prompt identification and treatment of a chyle leak are essential for optimal surgical outcome. In this article we will review the current treatment options for iatrogenic cervical chyle leaks.