Lymphoedema

Overview

  • A chronic oedematous condition secondary to disruption or inadequate lymph drainage of an area
  • Primary lymphoedema is an idiopathic condition usually presenting in the first three decades of life
    • It is a result of faulty development of the lymphatic system
  • Secondary lymphoedema is due to another cause (e.g. after lymph node clearance for cancer, deep vein thrombosis and obesity)
    • Chronic arm lymphoedema is common after axillary node clearance for breast cancer
  • Areas of lymphoedema are prone to infection
  • Treatment options include:
    • Massage techniques to manually drain the lymphatic system
    • Compression bandages
    • Specific exercises
    • Surgery is rarely used

N.B. Do not take blood from a limb with lymphoedema

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