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Welcome, medical contents search May 9, 2013
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more about Lymphedema

  • Lymphedema is swelling due to failure of the lymphatic system to function properly, specifically from blockage of the normal drainage of lymph back into the blood.  The lymphatic system is a collection of glands and vessels distributed throughout the body that slowly bring fluid back to the right side of the heart.  Fluid in the legs and arms may be returned to the heart through the venous or lymphatic systems.  The lymphatic system is also involved in fighting infection.  When the lymphatic system fails to work properly, usually for unknown reasons, or becomes obstructed, fluid will back up into the extremities.
  • In the arms, the most common cause of Lymphedema is removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit during Breast Cancer surgery.  When these nodes are removed, fluid backs up into the arm, causing it to swell.
  • In the legs, the most common cause of Lymphedema is incompetence of the lymph vessels -- they are unable to handle all the lymph.  Infections and tumors affecting the lymph glands can also cause Lymphedema.
  • Lymphedema can be caused by congenital conditions, or acquired as a result of treatment for cancer involving the lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels (i.e., surgery, etc.) as described above.

  • Consultation with a physician is needed to determine the underlying cause.

  • Treat the underlying cause if known.
  • If the cause is unknown, elevating the affected limb above the level of the heart may help decrease swelling.

more about Lymphedema

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