The Combination of Lymph Node Transfer and Excisional Procedures in Bilateral Lower Extremity Lymphedema: Clinical Outcomes and Quality of Life Assessment with Long-Term Follow-Up

Losco L., Bolletta A., de Sire A., Chen S., SERT G., Aksoyler D. Y., ...More

JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MEDICINE, vol.11, no.3, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/jcm11030570
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: No


Background: Bilateral lower extremity lymphedema is a rare and invalidating condition that poses a great challenge to the scientific community, and deeply affects the quality of life (QoL) of affected patients. A combined protocol consisting of lymph node transfer and a reductive method have never been reported for the treatment of this condition, except for small case series with brief follow-up periods. Methods: This retrospective study analyzed data of 29 patients, mean age 51 +/- 17.1 years, who had been diagnosed with bilateral lower extremity lymphedema. Gastroepiploic vascularized lymph node transfer was performed in all the patients, and an excisional procedure was associated according to the clinical stage. Clinical history, circumferential limb measurements, complications, episodes of cellulitis, and responses to the Lymphedema Quality of Life Questionnaire were analyzed. Results: The mean follow-up was 38.4 +/- 11.8 months. A significant reduction in the episodes of cellulitis per year was observed (p < 0.001). In our series, BMI and duration of symptoms were significantly related to the development of cellulitis during the postoperative period, p = 0.006 and p = 0.020, respectively. The LYMQoL questionnaire showed a significant quality of life improvement from 3.4 +/- 0.9 to 6.2 +/- 0.8 (p < 0.05). Conclusions: An integrated approach is essential for the treatment of bilateral lower extremity lymphedema: reductive and reconstructive methods are complementary to achieve a successful outcome. Timely treatment and BMI reduction are relevant in order to decrease the number of episodes of cellulitis. An attentive follow-up is necessary to identify recurrence and treat affected patients in time.