Venous thromboembolic outcomes in patients with lymphedema and lipedema: An analysis from the National Inpatient Sample

Vasc Med. 2024 Feb;29(1):42-47. doi: 10.1177/1358863X231219006.


Background: Patients with lymphedema and lipedema share physical exam findings that may lead to misdiagnosis. Poor mobility is common in patients with obesity and patients with lymphedema and lipedema. This may constitute a risk factor for venous thromboembolism (VTE). Our objective was to evaluate the association of VTE in obese patients with lymphedema and lipedema.

Methods: The National Inpatient Sample (NIS) was searched from 2016 to 2020 to identify hospital admissions of obese female patients with lymphedema and lipedema. Patients were analyzed in the context of presence or absence of VTE while adjusting for complex cluster sampling techniques. Predictors of VTE were accessed by multivariable regression.

Results: Lymphedema was identified in 189,985 patients and lipedema in 50,645 patients. VTE was observed in 3.12% (n = 374,210) of patients with obesity. In patients with obesity, VTE was more common in patients with lymphedema than without (2.6% vs 1.6%; p < 0.01). Similarly, VTE was more common in patients with lipedema than without (0.6% vs 0.4%; p < 0.01). After multivariable logistic regression, VTE events in obese patients with lymphedema were higher versus without (OR 1.6; CI 1.08-2.43; p = 0.02). Similarly, VTE events were more common in obese patients with lipedema versus obese patients without lipedema (OR 1.20; CI 1.03-1.41; p = 0.02).

Conclusions: In this hypothesis-generating study, lymphedema and lipedema show a positive association with VTE after adjusting for baseline patient characteristics such as obesity, which is a known independent risk factor for VTE. Mechanisms whereby lymphedema and lipedema are associated with VTE should be investigated.

Keywords: deep vein thrombosis (DVT); leg swelling; lipedema; lymphedema; venous thromboembolism (VTE).

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Lipedema* / diagnosis
  • Lipedema* / epidemiology
  • Lymphedema* / diagnosis
  • Lymphedema* / epidemiology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Venous Thromboembolism* / diagnosis
  • Venous Thromboembolism* / epidemiology