Lymphedema is a chronic condition that carries a significant physical, psychosocial, and economic burden. The authors’ program was established in 2017 with the aims of providing immediate lymphatic reconstruction in high-risk patients undergoing lymphadenectomy and performing delayed lymphatic reconstruction in patients with chronic lymphedema. The purpose of this study was to describe the authors’ clinical experience in the first year.
A retrospective review of our clinical database was performed on all individuals presenting to the authors’ institution for lymphatic surgery consideration. Patient demographics, clinical characteristics, and surgical management were reviewed.
A total of 142 patients presented for lymphatic surgery evaluation. Patients had a mean age of 54.8 years and an average body mass index of 30.4 kg/m2
. Patients with lymphedema were more likely to be referred from an outside facility compared to patients seeking immediate lymphatic reconstruction (p
< 0.001). For patients with lymphedema, the most common cause was breast cancer related. Thirty-two percent of all patients evaluated underwent a lymphatic procedure. Of these, 32 were immediate lymphatic reconstructions and 13 were delayed lymphatic reconstructions. In the authors’ first year, 94 percent of eligible patients presenting for immediate lymphatic reconstruction underwent an intervention versus only 38 percent of eligible lymphedema patients presenting for delayed lymphatic reconstruction (p
First-year review of our lymphatic surgery experience has demonstrated clinical need evidenced by the number of patients and high percentage of outside referrals. As a program develops, lymphatic surgeons should expect to perform more time-sensitive immediate lymphatic reconstructions, as evaluation of chronic lymphedema requires development of a robust team for workup and review.