Chylous leak is an uncommon complication after head and neck surgery and typically results from a lesion of the thoracic duct (TD). Beside conservative treatment, different minimally invasive and surgical procedures exist, of which almost all lead to a total closure of the TD.
We report on a rare case of microsurgical lymphovenous anastomosis to treat a TD lesion. An additional systematic review on surgical procedures to treat TD lesions with special attention to lymphovenous anastomoses was performed according to the PRISMA guidelines.
A 52-year-old patient with a chylous fistula after modified radical neck dissection was successfully treated by a lymphovenous anastomosis of the TD and external jugular vein with additional coverage by sternocleidomastoid muscle flap. The patient showed a complete resolution of chylous leak with an uneventful postoperative course.The systematic search of literature yielded 684 articles with 4 case reports on lymphovenous anastomosis in chylous leak with a high success rate. Other surgical techniques include transcervical, thoracoscopic, or video-assisted thoracoscopic TD ligation, either alone or combined with a local muscle flap.
Lymphovenous anastomosis of the TD is a feasible and safe technique allowing for treatment of cervical TD lesions, especially if minimally invasive procedures fail. Compared with other techniques, lymphatic circulation can successfully be maintained.