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Tony Reid M.D. Ph.D.
The Third National Lymphedema Network Conference was a success. The information presented at the conference was both interesting and educational.
I hope many of you had a chance to attend. For those of you who did not have the chance to attend, I will review some of the topics presented at the conference in Lymphedema eNews.
We have had many questions on our Lymphedema Forum concerning the surgical management of lymphedema. Doctor Slavin presented an interesting talk on restoring lymphatic function using abdominal flap reconstruction. Tissue flaps are frequently used in surgery to replace skin that is damaged or destroyed. For example, a portion of the skin from the abdomen can be moved to the chest in reconstruction following breast cancer surgery. These tissue flaps do not develop lymphedema and studies have shown that new l
ymphatic channels can form between the flap and the adjacent normal tissue.
Dr. Slavin pointed out that surgical attempts to reconstruct lymphatic channels has failed so far. As a result, he has approached the problem by studying the use of tissue flaps to by-pass obstructed lymphatic channels. To study this method, he induced lymphedema in rats by surgically obstructing the lymphatics in their tail. He then used an abdominal flap to by-pass the lymphatic obstruction. He demonstrated marked reduction of lymphedema among the animals who received the abdominal flap compared to the a
nimals who did not receive this surgery. In addition, his research demonstrated restored lymphatic function in the affected area by lymphoscintography.
His research demonstrates that tissue flaps of the type used in plastic surgery can be used to by-pass obstructed lymphatics in an animal model. Will this work in humans? Only time and further research will answer that question. The area of lymphatic obstruction in humans may be different from the obstruction created in rats. Many individuals who suffer from lymphedema have undergone both surgery and radiation in the affected area. As a result, the extent of their obstruction may be proportionately greater
than the obstruction created in the rats. Nevertheless, this is exciting work and further research is needed to determine whether this technique will provide much needed relief for those who suffer from lymphedema.
In the upcoming newsletter, I will talk about lymphatic growth factors in more detail.
For additional information about clinical trials and occlusion rates, see Dr. Reid's Corner
Your questions and comments are welcome. Please contact us here.
Case of the Month
We are excited to pass on this information regarding a new patient to the ReidSleeve. She received her sleeve in August1998. She was in an area where she did not receive adequate treatment for her condition from the medical community. She felt alone and frustrated. Greatful for the extra support, she began our Patient Support Program and we started tracking her measurements immediately. After the first week of treatment with the ReidSleeve, she had a 20-25% reduction. After almost a month of treatment, Sus
an's arm is nearly normal and her overall reduction is 100%!
We will gradually reduce the use of the ReidSleeve, exchanging it for lighter garments, while continuing to monitoring her progress to make sure that she does not experience rebound swelling. We were as excited as she was as we followed her progress. We appreciated her compliment when she said she could not have made this much progress without the ReidSleeve and the caring attention she received.