We described a 45-year-old previously healthy man presenting with progressively worsening breathlessness for 10 days. Physical examination was suggestive of a left-sided pleural effusion. A chest X-ray was confirmatory. Analysis of aspirated fluid showed a lymphocytic exudate with grossly elevated amylase and lipase levels. CT revealed chronic calcific pancreatitis as the underlying cause of effusion. Retrospective questioning failed to identify classical symptoms of chronic pancreatitis including abdominal pain and steatorrhoea. The patient was managed with intercostal drainage and supportive care. Although unusual, chronic pancreatitis should be kept as a differential diagnosis in patients with unilateral exudative pleural effusion. Elevated fluid levels of amylase and lipase are useful clues to this uncommon diagnosis.
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