Charles published the first reported surgical procedure of lymphedema of the scrotum in 1912 and described its application to lower limb lymphedema briefly in the same article. Since then, a variety of surgical techniques have been attempted as cures for lymphedema.These operative strategies can be classified into two categories: ablative operations and physiologic operations in which new channels are created to increase the capacity to transport lymph fluid.
This youtube video from one of the article’s authors, Dr. David Chang ( MDAnderson) explains the procedure:The senior author (D.W.C.) evaluated 20 consecutive patients with stage 2 or 3 upper extremity lymphedema (clinical staging of lymphedema by Campisi et al) secondary to treatment of breast cancer who underwent lymphaticovenular bypasses ranging from 0.3 to 0.8 mm. Mean operative time was 3.3 hours (range, 2 to 5 hours). Hospital stay was less than 24 hours in all patients.Of 20 patients, 19 reported significant clinical improvement following the procedure. Mean volume reduction at 1 month was 29 percent; at 3 months, it was 36 percent; at 6 months, it was 39 percent; and at 1 year, it was 35 percent. There were no postoperative complications or exacerbation of lymphedema.
Resources for more information on lymphedema:
BreastCancer.org – Arm Lymphedema (last updated Dec 2009)
MayoClinic.com – Lymphedema (general info, not breast cancer specific)
National Lymphedema Network