Nutrition support has played a major role in the treatment of chylothorax, both to prevent malnutrition and to minimize chyle production and flow. This report evaluates chyle composition in a patient with chylothorax who was placed on a low-fat diet, medium-chain triglyceride diet, and total parenteral nutrition in sequence. Both triglyceride content and volume of chyle declined, but drainage persisted, ultimately requiring thoracic duct ligation. The chyle triglyceride while on total parenteral nutrition, which presumably originates from both the intestine and plasma, contained more long-chain unsaturated fatty acids than the circulating serum triglyceride. Of particular interest was the detection of an appreciable amount of medium-chain fatty acids in the chyle triglyceride, constituting 20% of the triglyceride fatty acids when an enteral formulation with medium-chain triglyceride as a sole fat source was administered. The finding of almost threefold more decanoic acid (C10:0) than octanoic acid (C8:0), despite the presence of considerably more octanoic acid in the original diet, suggests that trioctanoin may be a preferable medium-chain triglyceride substrate for the nonsurgical treatment of chylothorax.
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