With chronic lymphoedema, the lymphatic system becomes blocked in the arms or legs and a micro-surgical lymph vessel transplant can be performed. In this procedure lymph vessels are taken from a healthy leg and transplanted to the poorly functioning area. In many cases a major improvement in the lymphoedema is to be expected, especially with early intervention, ideally six months after the onset of lymphoedema.
Post surgery tumor and accident patients can benefit as important lymphatic drainage area can see the development lymphoedema due to the removal of a lymph-node or damage caused radiation treatment. A blockage of the lymph vessels prevents proper drainage and an oedema forms.
Fortunately many cases respond to conservative therapies (lymph drainage and compression), and most oedemas recede after about six months. If however the oedema persists, this may indicate a chronic disorder and raise the possibility of needing to wear compression garments and use decongestants on a life-long basis. There is a chance a lymph vessel transplant can help attain an oedema free state, as long as the tissue has not yet changed permanently and the lymph vessels are not scarred or narrowed to the point of closure Lymph vessel transplants are similar to a ‘heart by-pass operation of the leg’ in that the transplanted lymph vessels bridge the blockage and re-enable flow.
Lymph Vessel Transplants – The Consultation and Examination
After an evaluation of your case history, a thorough examination of your lymphatic system is conducted, and if necessary, further scrutiny at the University of Freiburg medical clinics or the specialist lymphology centre. If the examination finds you are unable to have the lymph vessel transplant operation, the ’Földiklinik’ in Hinterzarten (a village outside of Freiburg in the Black Forest), with whom we collaborate, can offer an intensive course of treatment using conservative therapies. First used at our clinic, and now used world-wide, we use magnetic resonance lymphography to determine the effect of the operation, document the oedema before and after the procedure, and measure the circumference of the affected limb at regular intervals.