Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a chronic swelling of the limb that occurs commonly in patients who undergo cancer surgery with lymph node removal and/or receive radiation therapy. The University of Chicago Medicine is one of just a few centers in the country offering and focusing on innovative microsurgical techniques, such as lymphovenous bypass and vascularized lymph node transfers, which can help reduce the severity of the lymphedema and improve the quality of life for patients with lymphedema.

  • Lymphovenous bypass - Under a microscope, surgeons use microsurgical instruments to connect blocked lymphatic vessels (as small as 0.2 mm in diameter) to a nearby vein. The bypass allows excess lymph fluid to flow more freely.
  • Lymph node transfer - Healthy vascularized lymph nodes (lymph nodes that have a rich blood supply) are microsurgically transplanted to an area of lymphatic injury to reestablish lymphatic connections.

While results vary, many patients report that their arm or leg feels lighter and more comfortable after the undergoing the treatment.

Our multidisciplinary team provides a thorough scientific approach for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment through collaboration amongst all aspects of lymphedema treatment among surgeons, physical therapists and other professionals.