Mastectomy and lymph node dissection can at times lead to lympedema of the arm. The degree of the lymphedema can vary, but it can become debilitating in some patients.
Patients that have failed conservative treatment and have persistent lymphedema may be candidates for lymphovenous anastomosis and/or lymph node transplantation to the axilla or hand.
Lymphedema results from accumulation excess fluid in the tissues of the upper or lower extremity. This can lead to inflammation and proliferation of cells and scarring of the affected tissue. Recurrent infection and loss of function can result. Vascularized lymph node transplant and lymphovenous anastomosis were designed to improve outflow of lymphatic fluid and decrease the size of the affected limb. Results with lympovenous anastomosis and lymph not transplant have been promising to date. The standard treatment for lymphedema is decongestive therapy, however it involves a significant investment in time, necessitating regular maintenance therapy.