Chyluria : Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Chyluria is a medical condition characterized by the white coloration of urine secondary to the leak of chyle (a milky fluid composed of lymph and fats) in the urinary tract. In this article, we will explore the possible causes of chyluria, symptoms, diagnosis, and available treatment.

◉ What causes chyluria?

Chyluria occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged or not functioning as it should and there is abnormal communication between the lymph vessels and the urinary systems. It is generally classified as parasitic (parasitic infection) or non-parasitic causes based on its etiopathogenesis

◉ Parasitic causes of chyluria

  • Filariasis caused by Wuchereria bancrofti (95% of parasitic causes): the perineal lymphatics dilate and cause lymphatic-urinary fistulas, causing the emission of milky urine.
  • Taenia echinococcus
  • Ceronomas hominis
  • Taenia girl
  • Schistosoma haematobium
  • Hookworm
  • Trichinosis
  • Eustrongylus gigas
  • Malaria
  • Ascaris

◉ Non-parasitic causes of chyluria

  • Tumor in the abdomen region.
  • Trauma
  • Lymphatic malformation and lymphatic obstruction
  • Abdominal lymph node enlargement
  • Abscess
  • Cancellation
  • Infections: tuberculosis, fungal infection, leprosy, ETC.
  • Surgery
  • Thoracic duct stenosis: secondary to aortic aneurysm, cancer, pregnancy, ETC..
  • Pregnancy

Note : Whatever the cause, if lymphatic drainage from the bowel is obstructed, the lymphatic vessels dilate and may rupture and flood the urinary tract.

◉ Chyluria symptoms

The main signs and symptoms of chyluria include:

  • Milky or cloudy urine excretion: The appearance of urine varies with the amount of lymph present, ranging from clear to opalescent or milky.
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria): is seen when there is a rupture of blood vessels in the urinary tract, and may contain blood clots.
  • Dysuria
  • Flank pain: resembling renal colic due to clots in the urinary tract in severe cases.
  • Weight loss and growth problems.
  • Hypoproteinemia
  • Swelling of the legs (oedema)
  • Weakness.
  • Hydrocele

Note : The patient may remain completely asymptomatic in some cases.

◉ Diagnosis

To diagnose chyluria, doctors ask about symptoms, do an exam, test urine and blood, and order x-rays

Urine tests: A post-prandial urine sample is recommended. It can be characterized by:

  • Disappearance of the milky white urine after a fat-free diet.
  • Protein excretion in the urine increases with a fatty meal.
  • When allowed to settle, it separates into distinct layers of fat, fibrin and cellular debris, while after centrifugation it remains cloudy
  • Urine becomes clear after adding a fatty solvent such as ether.
  • A meal containing butter mixed with Sudan III taken 4-6 hours before may produce red-colored urine in the presence of chyle.
  • A urinary triglyceride level >15 mg/dL
  • Detection of filarial antigen.

Blood tests: blood hypereosinophilia, filarial antigen, emission of nocturnal microfilariae in the circulating blood

Imaging tests: May include CT scan, lymphangiogram, MRI, X-ray, intravenous urography, retrograde pyelography, or ultrasound. These tests can be useful tools to find the cause of the obstruction and localize the chylo-urinary leak

Laparoscopy: A thin rod with a camera attached is passed through a small incision in your abdomen to determine the source of lymphatic leakage.

◉ Treatment

Treatment for chyluria depends on its cause. It may include :

Diet change


Minimally invasive

Invasive treatment

In some situations, the doctor may recommend more invasive procedures, such as surgery:

◉ I have chyluria, when should I see my healthcare provider?

If you suspect you have chyluria, it is essential to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible to receive a precise diagnosis and appropriate management.

◉ Conclusion

If chyle leaks from a lymphatic vessel into your urine, you have what is known as chyluria. A rare condition characterized by the white color of urine, which can be treated and cured when the underlying cause is identified and properly managed.

◉ Frequently Asked Questions

Is chyluria serious ?

Chyluria goes away without treatment (up to 50% of cases). However, It can sometimes cause problems such as vitamin deficiencies, cachexia, hypoproteinaemia and malnutrition.

What the normal color of urine ?

The normal color of the urine is clear to pale yellow. Any changes like white, brown, or red color are considered abnormal. But certain medicines or foods can change the color such as beets, blackberries and fava beans can turn urine pink or red, for example.

Is chyluria life threatening? ?

Although chyluria is not life-threatening, its symptoms may require hospitalization for improvement.

In cas of chyluria, where can happen the obstruction of lymph flow ?

The obstruction of lymph flow and rupture of lymphatic vessels into the renal pelvis, ureters, bladder, or urethra.

What parasite causes chyluria ?

Parasitic chyluria is mainly (95%) caused by Wuchereria bancrofti. It is an unusual manifestation of lymphatic filariasis reported mainly from South Asian countries.

What is the difference between lymphuria and chyluria?

Chyluria is a condition characterized by the presence of fat and lymph in the urine, while in lymphuria only lymph is present.

Update: Last revised by our editorial team on 29/07/2023.


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