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Chest. 2008 Aug;134(2):375-381. doi: 10.1378/chest.08-0137. Epub 2008 Apr 10.

Yellow nail syndrome: analysis of 41 consecutive patients.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. Electronic address:
Division of Anatomic Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ.
Department of Pathology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.



Yellow nail syndrome (YNS) is a rare condition defined by the presence of yellow nails associated with lymphedema and/or chronic respiratory manifestations. Several aspects of this disorder remain poorly defined.


We sought to clarify the clinical features and course associated with YNS by analyzing 41 consecutive cases evaluated at a tertiary referral medical center.


There were 20 men and 21 women; median age at diagnosis was 61 years (range, 18 to 82 years). None had a family history of YNS. All but one patient had chronic respiratory manifestations that included pleural effusions (46%), bronchiectasis (44%), chronic sinusitis (41%), and recurrent pneumonias (22%); 26 patients (63%) had lymphedema. Treatment included rotating antibiotic therapy for bronchiectasis, thoracenteses, oral vitamin E, and corticosteroid therapy. Eight patients underwent surgical management of recurrent pleural effusions including pleurodesis and decortication; two additional patients underwent pleurodesis via tube thoracostomy. The yellow nails improved or resolved in 14 of 25 patients (56%) for whom relevant data were available. Median survival of this cohort using the Kaplan-Meier method was 132 months, significantly lower than (p = 0.01) the control population. Among those still alive (20 patients), the disease appeared stable.


In most cases, YNS is an acquired disorder and associated respiratory manifestations are generally manageable with a regimen of medical and surgical treatments. Yellow nails improve in about one half of patients, often without specific therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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