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Hepatic hydrothorax is a complication of cirrhosis of the liver.
It happens when fluid moves from the abdomen into the space around the lungs, causing shortness of breath and other problems.
About 4.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from liver disease. Almost 43,000 die each year from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.
About 5% to 10% of people with cirrhosis end up getting hepatic hydrothorax.
Having advanced liver disease causes hepatic hydrothorax. It happens when the liver can't filter the blood properly, and fluid backs up into the space around the lungs.
You're at an increased risk for hepatic hydrothorax if you have cirrhosis or other advanced liver diseases, such as:
Hepatic hydrothorax is often a sign that your liver condition is getting worse.
A complication of hepatic hydrothorax is getting a lung infection.
The only sure way to prevent this condition is to keep your liver healthy. People who drink too much alcohol or have hepatitis are at risk for liver disease.
If you have liver disease, you can stop further damage by:
Our doctors are experts at treating cirrhosis of the liver. They also know how to treat its complications, such as hepatic hydrothorax.
UPMC has the latest in cutting-edge technologies and research in liver disease.
And, we're home to one of the oldest and most experienced liver transplant centers in the U.S.
Hepatic hydrothorax mainly happens on the right side of the body, where the liver is. The right lung becomes compressed when fluid builds up around it.
Signs of hepatic hydrothorax include:
Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you about your health history.
Fluid in the lung cavity can occur with other conditions, such as heart disease. If someone has liver disease but not heart disease, the fluid in the lung cavity is more likely hepatic hydrothorax.
Your doctor may order the following tests to confirm a diagnosis:
The experts at UPMC treat challenging complications of liver disease, including hepatic hydrothorax.
Your doctor may use a mix of treatments such as lifestyle changes, drugs, and surgery.
Your doctor will likely ask you to limit your salt (sodium) intake.
Salt causes you to retain water, which can add to fluid build-up in the lungs.
Your doctor may prescribe water pills to help rid your body of salt and water.
That can help lower high blood pressure in the liver.
Your doctor may decide the best approach to treat your hepatic hydrothorax is surgery, such as: