Lymphoscintigraphy in the Diagnosis of Lymphatic Leak After Surgical Repair of Femoral Artery Injury

JONES, TIMOTHY R. M.D.*; CARLISLE, MARIE R. M.D., Ph.D.†; HOFMANN, LAWRENCE V. M.D.*; STRAUSS, H. WILLIAM M.D.†; OLCOTT, CORNELIUS IV M.D.‡

Original Articles

Purpose: Technetium-99m–labeled sulfur colloid lymphoscintigraphy is useful to evaluate lower extremity lymphatic circulation in cases of possible lymphedema and to reveal abnormal lymphatic collections. Groin lymphatic fistulas and lymphoceles are known complications of peripheral vascular surgical procedures. The authors describe a patient with ascites that developed into right lower extremity swelling after surgical repair of a femoral artery injury. Even after surgical ligation of multiple lymphatic channels, the patient continued to have lymphorrhea. It was unclear whether this was attributable to a persistent lymphatic leak or an ascitic leak from a postsurgical defect resulting in an abnormal connection with the peritoneal cavity.

Methods: Lymphoscintigraphy of the lower extremities was performed using Tc-99m sulfur colloid. Images were obtained at several intervals after injection of the radiotracer. Images were also acquired after the wound packing was removed.

Results: The images revealed an accumulation of radiotracer in the right groin, confirming the lower extremity lymphatic origin of the collection.

Conclusions: Lymphoscintigraphy is useful to evaluate the origin of serous collections in the groin, a region in which lymphatic complications of vascular surgery are not uncommon.

From the Department of Radiology,* Division of Nuclear Medicine,† Stanford Health Services, and the Department of Surgery,‡ Stanford Health Services, Stanford, California

Received for publication April 3, 2000.

Revision accepted July 23, 2000.

Reprint requests: Marie Reed Carlisle, M.D., Ph.D., Division of Nuclear Medicine, Room H-0250, Stanford Health Services, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, California 94305-5281. E-mail: drmcarlisle@yahoo.com

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.