MR imaging, proton MR spectroscopy, ultrasonographic, histologic findings in patients with chronic lymphedema

Lymphology. 2007 Dec;40(4):157-62.


Lymphedema is a progressive disease with multiple alterations occurring in the dermis. We undertook this study using high-frequency ultrasonography (US), magnetic resonance imaging, proton MR spectroscopy and histology to examine structural changes occurring in the subcutaneous tissue and precisely describe the nature of intralobular changes in chronic lymphedema. Four cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue biopsies from patients with chronic lymphedema during lymphonodal transplantation were studied. We performed US with a 13.5 MHz transducer, TSE T1 and TSE T2 magnetic resonance images with and without fat-suppression, MR Chemical Shift Imaging Spectroscopy and histological evaluation on these biopsies. We found that normal subcutaneous septa are seen as hyperechogenic lines in US and hyposignal lines in MRI and that hyperechogenic subcutis in US can be due to interlobular and intralobular water accumulation and/or to interlobular and intralobular fibrosis. Our study also confirms the usefulness of MR spectroscopy to assess water or fat content of soft tissue. Thus, multiple imaging modalities may be necessary to precisely delineate the nature of tissue alterations in chronic lymphedema.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphedema / diagnosis*
  • Lymphedema / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymphedema / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / pathology
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / pathology
  • Ultrasonography