PURPOSE:We performed this study to evaluate the clinical significance and temporal changes of pleural effusion developed after the resection of hepatoma. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We reviewed retrospectively follow-up chest radiographs of 97 patients who had undergone operation for hepatoma and had no radiologically demonstrable postoperative complications. The duration of pleural effusion was classified into five groups and the amount of pleural effusion at one week after operation was graded into four groups. Statistical significance of the relationship between the duration, amount of pleural effusion and five factors, which are location and size of tumor, age of the patients, methods of operation, and preoperative liver function, was studied respectively. RESULTS:Pleural effusion was developed in 63.9% (62/97) and the mean duration was 2.5 weeks. In 92% (52/56), pleural effusion disappeared spontaneously within four weeks. Patients who had hepatoma in upper portion of the right lobe developed more frequent pleural effusion which persisted longer, and was larger in amount at one week after operation(p<0.05). There were no statistically significant differences between pleural effusion and the other four factors. CONCLUSION:Pleural effusion following hepatoma surgery should not be regarded as a sign of post-operative complication, as it invariably disappears spontaneously within four weeks. Development of pleural effusion is considered to be caused by local irritation and disturbance of lymphatic flow at the diaphragm.