What is it?

Lymphedema occurs when fluid in the body accumulates in tissues, causing them to swell. It's usually drained through the lymphatic system. Arms and legs are most commonly affected, but abdomens, necks, chest walls and genitals are also at risk.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Other Lymphedema

Signs & symptoms

Signs and symptoms of lymphedema include:

A swelling of the arm or leg, including the fingers and toes

Feelings of heaviness or tightness

Motion is restricted

The recurrence of infections

A condition in which the skin hardens and thickens (fibrosis)

There is a wide range of signs and symptoms associated with this condition. Symptoms of lymphedema caused by cancer treatment may not appear for months or years after treatment is completed.

Diagnosis

A doctor may diagnose lymphedema based on your signs and symptoms if you're at risk of lymphedema - for instance, if you've recently had cancer surgery involving your lymph nodes.

The cause of your lymphedema may not be as obvious, so your doctor may order imaging tests to examine your lymph system. The following tests may be performed:

A magnetic resonance imaging scan. An MRI produces 3D, high-resolution images of affected tissue by using a magnetic field and radio waves.

A CT scan is performed. X-rays produce detailed cross-sectional images of the body's structures. Lymphatic blockages can be detected by CT scans.

The ultrasound. An image of the internal structures is produced using sound waves. A lymphatic and vascular ultrasound can help find obstructions.

The lymphoscintigraphy process. A radioactive dye is injected into the person and then scanned by a machine during this test. As the dye moves through the lymph vessels, blockages are highlighted in the resulting images.

Treatment

In the case of lymphedema, there is no cure. The goal of treatment is to reduce swelling and prevent complications from occurring.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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