BACKGROUND/AIMS: Hepatic hydrothorax in patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis is a challenging problem. Treatment with diuretics and intermittent thoracentesis can be effective in selected patients. However, there are few effective therapeutic options in patients who are intolerant of these therapies. This study investigated the clinical usefulness of chemical pleurodesis with or without video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) for patients with refractory hepatic hydrothorax. METHODS: Eleven consecutive patients with refractory hepatic hydrothorax who underwent chemical pleurodesis with or without VATS between July 2007 and February 2011 were enrolled in this study. The medical records and radiologic imagings of these patients were thoroughly reviewed. RESULTS: The median number of chemical pleurodesis sessions performed was 3 (range: 2-10). Successful pleurodesis was achieved in 8 of the 11 patients (72.7%), 5 (62.5%) of whom remained asymptomatic and hydrothorax free for a median follow-up of 16 weeks (range: 2-52 weeks). Complications were low-grade fever/leukocytosis (n=11, 100%), pneumonia (n=1, 9.1%), pneumothorax (n=4, 36.4%), azotemia/acute renal failure (n=6, 54.6%), and hepatic encephalopathy (n=4, 36.4%). Five patients were suspected as having procedure-related mortality (45.5%) due to the occurrence of acute renal failure with hepatic failure. The overall survival was significantly longer in the success group than in the non-success group. CONCLUSIONS: Although chemical pleurodesis may improve the clinical symptoms and the radiologic findings in as many as 72.7% of patients with refractory hepatic hydrothorax, a significantly high prevalence of procedure-related morbidity and mortality hinders the routine application of this procedure for such patients.