Evaluation of Recurrent Right-Sided Pleural Effusion: Hepatic Hydrothorax vs. Silicone Breast Implant Rupture


North Florida


North Florida Regional Medical Center

Document Type

Case Report

Publication Date



video-assisted thoracic surgery, silicone implant rupture, hepatic hydrothorax, talc pleurodesis, pleural effusion


Digestive System Diseases | Internal Medicine | Pulmonology | Surgical Procedures, Operative


We report a case of a 55-year-old woman who presented to our hospital emergency department with a recurrent right-sided pleural effusion. Her presenting symptom was shortness of breath which first began two years prior after she experienced a blunt thoracic injury. This injury resulted in the rupture of her right silicone breast implant. Since the traumatic rupture of her right breast implant, she developed asthma-like symptoms and allergies that were adequately controlled with bronchodilators, antihistamines, and glucocorticoids. Laboratory investigation was significant for elevated immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels and eosinophilia consistent with an allergic hypersensitivity reaction. She denied a history of smoking, asthma, or allergies preceding the trauma to her right breast implant. Our differential diagnosis also included the possibility of an inflammatory reaction to the silicone breast rupture as a possible etiology for the recurrent pleural effusion.

The patient underwent a right-sided diagnostic and therapeutic thoracentesis procedure on two separate occasions within a span of a month in an effort to improve her symptoms and arrive at a definitive diagnosis. Her worsening symptoms were believed to be triggered by the pleural effusion. Aspirated pleural fluid was sent to the laboratory for analysis. Both samples excluded infectious or malignant causes of the pleural effusion. Ultimately, the source of her pleural effusion was determined to be decompensated liver cirrhosis. The patient underwent a pleurodesis procedure in an effort to seal the pleural space.

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