Lymphedema Day, everything you need to know

Lymphedema Day, everything you need to know

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According to data reported by the Italian Society of Reconstructive-Regenerative and Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 40 thousand new diagnoses of lymphedema are recorded in Italy every year. We are talking about the increase in the volume of a limb due to alteration of the lymphatic system linked, in several cases, to the surgical removal of the lymph nodes which may be necessary in patients with tumors of the breast, cervix, uterus, ovaries, prostate, melanomas and sarcomas.

High numbers, yet – underlines the scientific society – patients encounter great difficulty in identifying the professionals and specialized centers to turn to. Not only that: the swelling with which the disease manifests itself is considered temporary and therefore neglected, resulting in often late diagnoses. A topic that is rarely talked about, but which affects the quality of life and to which March 6th, World Lymphedema Day, is dedicated.

The day

Precisely to respond to patients’ doubts and need for information, tomorrow afternoon the Italian Society of Reconstructive-Regenerative and Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (Sicpre) is organizing, both online and at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, the first edition of the Sicpre Lymphedema Day . The meeting – which will begin at 4 pm – will be attended by physiatrists, physiotherapists and plastic surgeons from all the (few) Italian centers specialized in the treatment of this disease. “Patients often underestimate the swelling and arrive at the diagnosis of lymphedema when it is stable and persistent, and therefore in an intermediate or advanced clinical stage,” he says Marzia Salgarelloassociate professor of Plastic Surgery at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart who in 2016 founded a center specialized in the surgical treatment of lymphedema at the Gemelli Polyclinic, and who is also president of Lymphedema Day Sicpre.

What surgery can do

In some cases, lymphedema can be treated with surgery: “Always on the basis of maximum personalization of the treatment, lymphatic-venous anastomoses can be performed, which consist of connecting, with a supermicrosurgical technique, the obstructed lymphatic vessels to small venules. In this way, the lymph discharges into the venous system and the swelling is reduced.” Another surgical possibility is the self-transplantation of lymph nodes and lymphatic tissue: “In this case – explains Salgarello – the operation consists in taking lymphatic tissue or lymph nodes from other areas of the body, such as the groin, neck or armpit. they are then transferred to the limb affected by lymphedema. With the use of an intraoperative microscope, the vessels of the lymph nodes are connected to small local vessels, improving the lymphatic drainage of the diseased part over time. It is super-specialized surgery, which is performed in a few centers in Italy”. And everyone will participate in the Sicpre event on March 6th.

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