Karen L. Krok; Andrés Cárdenas


Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2012;33(1):3-10. 

In This Article


Four large series comprising 1155 cirrhotic patients with ascites cited an incidence of hepatic hydrothorax of 6%.[1–4] In another series of 862 patients with cirrhosis, 15% had a pleural effusion, but only 6.5% had enough fluid to require a thoracentesis.[5]

As opposed to pleural effusions of cardiac origin that are typically bilateral, 79.5% of pleural effusions in a patient with cirrhosis are right sided only, 17.5% are left sided only, and 3% are bilateral.[6,7] This can be helpful in establishing the diagnosis of hepatic hydrothorax versus cardiac disease.