Semin Pediatr Surg. 2014 Aug;23(4):191-7. doi: 10.1053/j.sempedsurg.2014.07.004. Epub 2014 Jul 17.


Lymphedema is the chronic, progressive swelling of tissue due to inadequate lymphatic function. Over time, protein-rich fluid accumulates in the tissue, causing it to enlarge. Lymphedema is a specific disease and should not be used as a generic term for an enlarged extremity. The diagnosis is made by evaluating the history and physical examination, and can be confirmed with lymphoscintigraphy. Intervention includes patient education, compression, and, rarely, surgery. Patients are advised to exercise, maintain a normal body mass index, and moisturize/protect the diseased limb from incidental trauma. Conservative management consists of compression regimens. Operative interventions either attempt to address the underlying lymphatic anomaly or the excess tissue. Lymphatic-venous anastomosis and lymph node transfer attempt to create new lymphatic connections to correct the defect. Suction-assisted lipectomy and staged cutaneous/subcutaneous excision reduce the size of the area by removing extra tissues.

Keywords: Compression; Lymphedema; Management; Primary; Secondary.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lymphedema / diagnosis*
  • Lymphedema / therapy*