Lymphoedema can be treated conservatively or surgically. Early treatment is important, but the surgical indication and the effect of surgery on pain in lymphoedema-affected limbs have not been described. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of low-invasive scarless lymphatic venous anastomosis (LVA) for early or latent lymphoedema.
LVA was performed in six patients (eight legs) with leg lymphoedema between April 2010 and March 2011. Lymphoedema was stage 0 (defined as subclinical) in three patients (five legs) and stage 1 in three patients (three legs). Subjective symptoms, circumference of the affected leg and a lymphoscintigram were evaluated before and 6 months after surgery. Preoperatively, subcutaneous lymph vessels and veins were identified non-invasively using ICG lymphoscintigraphy and non-invasive instruments for visualising subcutaneous vein, AccuVein system, through the skin. These vessels and veins were secured with vessel loops passed underneath and side-to-side anastomosed under a surgical microscope.
Subjective symptoms improved after surgery in all patients. The leg circumference improved in stage 1 cases, which all had an increased circumference before surgery. Lymph retention was observed on preoperative lymphoscintigraphy in all six patients and was improved after surgery in all cases.
Scarless LVA performed through a small incision improves abnormal lymph circulation and subjective symptoms in cases of early lymphoedema, in which the limb circumference has just started to increase, and latent lymphoedema, in which the circumference has not increased, but abnormal findings on lymphoscintigraphy or subjective symptoms are present.
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Published online: July 23, 2012
Accepted: May 26, 2012
Received: December 9, 2011
© 2012 British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.