Objective—To describe complications and outcome
associated with chronic nonseptic pleural effusion
treated with pleuroperitoneal shunts in dogs.
Procedure—Medical records at 4 veterinary schools
were examined to identify dogs with chronic nonseptic
pleural effusion that were treated by use of a pleuroperitoneal
shunt between 1985 and 1999.
Signalment, history, physical examination and laboratory
findings, cause and type of pleural effusion, medical
and surgical treatments, complications, and outcome
Results—10 of 14 dogs had idiopathic chylothorax,
and 4 had an identified disease. All but 1 dog with
idiopathic chylothorax and 1 dog with chylothorax
from a heart base tumor had unsuccessful thoracic
duct ligation prior to pump placement. No intraoperative
complications developed during shunt placement.
Short-term complications developed in 7 of 13
dogs, necessitating shunt removal in 2 dogs and
euthanasia in 1. Eight of 11 dogs with long-term follow-
up developed complications; the overall mean
survival time and the interval in which dogs remained
free of clinical signs of pleural effusion were 27
months (range, 1 to 108 months) and 20 months
(range, 0.5 to 108 months), respectively.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Pleuroperitoneal
shunts can effectively palliate clinical signs
associated with intractable pleural effusion in dogs.
Numerous short- and long-term complications related
to the shunt should be expected. Most complications
can be successfully managed, but even when shunts
are functional some treatments fail because of severe
abdominal distension or massive pleural fluid production
that overwhelms the functional capacity of the
shunt. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:1590–1597)