Lymphoedema is the atypical collection of lymph fluid within body tissues. This is the result of failure to clear fluid and macromolecules by lymphatic system (1).
There is the accumulation of lymph fluid (which may contain plasma proteins, extravascular blood cells, excess water, and parenchymal products) in the extracellular, extravascular compartment (2).
In the limbs, it accumulates mainly in the subcutaneous tissue. The limbs are swollen, firm and pit poorly. Arms and legs are affected more often (1).
In some patients involvement of the trunk, head or genital area can be seen (3).
Lymphoedema can be divided into:
- 1. Primary lymphoedema - results from congenital insufficiency of the lymphatic system
- 2. Secondary lymphoedema - can be caused by damage to the lymphatic system or removal of lymph nodes by surgery, radiation, infection or injury (1)
- 1. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Interventional procedure overview of liposuction for chronic lymphoedema
- 2. National Cancer Institute 2008. Lymphedema
- 3. Moffatt C.J et al. Lymphoedema: an underestimated health problem. Q J Med 2003; 96: 731-738
Last reviewed 04/2022