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Papers of the Week

2020 Jul 17


Lymphovenous anastomosis (LVA) for treatment of secondary breast lymphedema: A case report and literature review.


Breast lymphedema (BLE) is a rather common complication occurring after surgical breast cancer treatment. Microsurgical lymphovenous anastomosis (LVA) is a validated technique for the management of lymphedema in the extremities and it is gaining approval also for the breast one. Here, we report a case of breast lymphedema successfully treated with LVA. A 52 years old woman referred chronic erythema, diffuse swelling and pain after breast surgery, axillary lymphnode dissection and adjuvant radiotherapy. Conservative treatments had been performed for 14 months without improvement of symptoms. The patient was then referred for surgery and multiple LVAs were performed at the right breast. A total of 3 LVAs have been performed, two lymphatic vessels were anastomosed to a single Y-shaped vein and one additional vessel was linked to another nearby vein of similar caliber. All the LVAs were executed using 12-0 microsutures and their patency was confirmed with intraoperative ICG lymphography. Immediately after this intervention the swelling decreased in size and the erythema disappeared and a sensation of relief was reported by the patient. The postoperative course was uneventful and at the 6 and 12 months follow up no signs and symptoms of recurrence were noted. Therefore, we believe that this case adds another significant evidence of the efficacy of LVA for treatment of secondary BLE refractory to conservative treatment. Moreover, we provide a literature review of previous reports of breast lymphedema treated recurring to this procedure.