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, 70 (2), 178-188

Peri-operative Care for Patients Undergoing Lymphaticovenular Anastomosis: A Systematic Review


Peri-operative Care for Patients Undergoing Lymphaticovenular Anastomosis: A Systematic Review

Harm Winters et al. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg.


Background: Lymphaticovenular anastomosis (LVA) is a supermicrosurgical procedure that involves the anastomosis of a functional lymphatic channel to a venule. Although peri-operative care might be an important contributor to the success of this technique, evidence about optimal peri-operative care seems limited. This review aims to summarize the peri-operative methods used by authors reporting on LVA.

Methods: A systematic search of the literature was performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Peri-operative care used by authors was summarized and listed in a pre-defined form. Studies were also graded on quality of evidence by the GRADE system and a lymphedema surgery-specific system.

Results: In total, 22 studies were identified describing peri-operative measures. Although most authors were sparse in their description of peri-operative management, most recommended initiation of conventional compression therapy at 1-4 weeks after surgery. Prophylactic antibiotics, elevation of the affected limb, bandaging, low-molecular-weight heparin, prostaglandin E1, and manual pressure therapy were also described. The quality of evidence of the included studies was low on average.

Conclusion: Although supermicrosurgical LVAs are gaining in popularity, there are no high-quality prospective trials evaluating these new techniques and the description of peri-operative management is scarce. Of the available studies, a peri-operative management consisting of prophylactic antibiotics, elevation of the affected limb during night and hospital stay, and compression therapy 4 weeks post-surgery for 6 months seems to be preferred. Future studies should describe a detailed peri-operative protocol to allow for a better comparison between study results and to determine optimal peri-operative recommendations.

Keywords: Lymphaticovenular anastomosis; Lymphedema surgery; Peri-operative care; Systematic review.

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