Anatomical and surgical concepts in lymphatic regeneration
Chronic post-surgical lymphedema is common condition that afflicts nearly 2 million Americans. In the USA, it is most commonly encountered in the upper extremities of patients who have undergone axillary lymph node dissection for breast cancer. Lymphedema has a significant negative effect on cosmesis, limb function, and overall quality of life. Despite the impact of this condition, very little is known about how to effectively prevent or treat lymphedema. While therapeutic options for chronic extremity lymphedema remain limited, several surgical approaches have been suggested. These include techniques aimed at reducing limb volume, as well as techniques that aim to reconstitute disrupted lymphatic channels. Operations proposed to re-establish lymphatic continuity include lymphatico-venous anastomoses, lymphatico-lymphatico anastomoses, and tissue transfer.