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      Vascularized lymph node transfer for treatment of extremity lymphedema: An overview of current controversies regarding donor sites, recipient sites and outcomes

      1 , 2 , 3 , 1

      Journal of Surgical Oncology

      Wiley

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          Most cited references 51

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          Lymphedema: a comprehensive review.

          Lymphedema is a chronic, debilitating condition that has traditionally been seen as refractory or incurable. Recent years have brought new advances in the study of lymphedema pathophysiology, as well as diagnostic and therapeutic tools that are changing this perspective. To provide a systematic approach to evaluating and managing patients with lymphedema. We performed MEDLINE searches of the English-language literature (1966 to March 2006) using the terms lymphedema, breast cancer-associated lymphedema, lymphatic complications, lymphatic imaging, decongestive therapy, and surgical treatment of lymphedema. Relevant bibliographies and International Society of Lymphology guidelines were also reviewed. In the United States, the populations primarily affected by lymphedema are patients undergoing treatment of malignancy, particularly women treated for breast cancer. A thorough evaluation of patients presenting with extremity swelling should include identification of prior surgical or radiation therapy for malignancy, as well as documentation of other risk factors for lymphedema, such as prior trauma to or infection of the affected limb. Physical examination should focus on differentiating signs of lymphedema from other causes of systemic or localized swelling. Lymphatic dysfunction can be visualized through lymphoscintigraphy; the diagnosis of lymphedema can also be confirmed through other imaging modalities, including CT or MRI. The mainstay of therapy in diagnosed cases of lymphedema involves compression garment use, as well as intensive bandaging and lymphatic massage. For patients who are unresponsive to conservative therapy, several surgical options with varied proven efficacies have been used in appropriate candidates, including excisional approaches, microsurgical lymphatic anastomoses, and circumferential suction-assisted lipectomy, an approach that has shown promise for long-term relief of symptoms. The diagnosis of lymphedema requires careful attention to patient risk factors and specific findings on physical examination. Noninvasive diagnostic tools and lymphatic imaging can be helpful to confirm the diagnosis of lymphedema or to address a challenging clinical presentation. Initial treatment with decongestive lymphatic therapy can provide significant improvement in patient symptoms and volume reduction of edematous extremities. Selected patients who are unresponsive to conservative therapy can achieve similar outcomes with surgical intervention, most promisingly suction-assisted lipectomy.
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            Prevalence of lymphedema in women with breast cancer 5 years after sentinel lymph node biopsy or axillary dissection: objective measurements.

            Sentinel lymph node biopsy was adopted for the staging of the axilla with the assumption that it would reduce the risk of lymphedema in women with breast cancer. The aim of this study was to determine the long-term prevalence of lymphedema after SLN biopsy (SLNB) alone and after SLNB followed by axillary lymph node dissection (SLNB/ALND). At median follow-up of 5 years, lymphedema was assessed in 936 women with clinically node-negative breast cancer who underwent SLNB alone or SLNB/ALND. Standardized ipsilateral and contralateral measurements at baseline and follow-up were used to determine change in ipsilateral upper extremity circumference and to control for baseline asymmetry and weight change. Associations between lymphedema and potential risk factors were examined. Of the 936 women, 600 women (64%) underwent SLNB alone and 336 women (36%) underwent SLNB/ALND. Patients having SLNB alone were older than those having SLNB/ALND (56 v 52 years; P < .0001). Baseline body mass index (BMI) was similar in both groups. Arm circumference measurements documented lymphedema in 5% of SLNB alone patients, compared with 16% of SLNB/ALND patients (P < .0001). Risk factors associated with measured lymphedema were greater body weight (P < .0001), higher BMI (P < .0001), and infection (P < .0001) or injury (P = .02) in the ipsilateral arm since surgery. When compared with SLNB/ALND, SLNB alone results in a significantly lower rate of lymphedema 5 years postoperatively. However, even after SLNB alone, there remains a clinically relevant risk of lymphedema. Higher body weight, infection, and injury are significant risk factors for developing lymphedema.
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              A novel approach to the treatment of lower extremity lymphedema by transferring a vascularized submental lymph node flap to the ankle.

              Vascularized groin lymph node flaps have been successfully transferred to the wrist to treat postmastecomy upper limb lymphedema. This study investigated the anatomy, mechanism and outcome of a novel vascularized submental lymph node (VSLN) flap transfer for the treatment of lower limb lymphedema. Bilateral regional submental flaps were dissected from three fresh adult cadavers for histological study. A unilateral submental flap was dissected in another six fresh cadavers after latex injection. The VSLN flap was transferred to the ankles of seven lower extremities in six patients with chronic lower extremity lymphedema. The mean patient age was 61 ± 9.4 years. The average duration of lymphedema symptoms was 71 ± 42.2 months. There was a mean of 3.3 ± 1.5 lymph nodes around the submental artery typically at the junction with the facial artery, on the six cadaveric histological sections. Mean of 2.3 ± 0.8 sizable lymph nodes were dissected and supplied by the submental artery in six cadaveric latex-injected submental flaps. All seven VSLN flaps survived. One flap required re-exploration for venous congestion but was successfully salvaged. There was no donor site morbidity. At a mean follow-up of 8.7 ± 4.2 months, the mean reduction of the leg circumference was 64 ± 11.5% above the knee, 63.7 ± 34.3% below the knee and 67.3 ± 19.2% above the ankle. The transfer of a vascularized submental lymph node flap to the ankle is a novel approach for the effective treatment of lower extremity lymphedema. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                Journal of Surgical Oncology
                J Surg Oncol
                Wiley
                00224790
                June 2018
                June 2018
                March 24 2018
                : 117
                : 7
                : 1420-1431
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Division of Reconstructive Microsurgery, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Chang Gung Memorial Hospital; Chang Gung University, College of Medicine; Taoyuan Taiwan
                [2 ]Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgical, Oncological and Oral Sciences; University of Palermo; Palermo Italy
                [3 ]Department of Plastic Surgery, Keck School of Medicine; University of Southern California; Los Angeles California
                Article
                10.1002/jso.25034
                © 2018

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