Single Lymphaticovenular Anastomosis for Early-Stage Lower Extremity Lymphedema Treated by the Superior-Edge-of-the-Knee Incision Method

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Background:Surgical treatment of lower extremity lymphedema (LEL) remains challenging. Application of the superior-edge-of-the-knee incision method for lymphaticovenular anastomosis (LVA) is reported to have a strong therapeutic effect in patients with LEL because lymph-to-venous flow at the anastomosis is enhanced by knee joint movement during normal walking. We investigated whether a single LVA created by this method is adequate for early LEL.Methods:The study involved 10 patients with LEL characterized by stage 2 or 3 leg dermal backflow and treated by a single LVA at the thigh via the superior-edge-of-the-knee incision method. The lymphatic vessel and direction of flow were assessed intraoperatively, and reduction in lymphedema volume was assessed postoperatively.Results:Use of our incision method yielded a single anastomosis in all patients with stage 2 leg dermal backflow and in all patients with stage 3 leg dermal backflow. The lymphatic vessel was 0.65 ± 0.08 mm in diameter (0.65 ± 0.09 and 0.65 ± 0.09 mm, respectively; P = 1.000). No venous reflux occurred in any patient. Mean follow-up was 7.70 ± 3.30 months (9.60 ± 3.29 and 5.80 ± 2.17 months, respectively; P = 0.068). Mean reduction in the LEL index was 20.160 ± 9.892 (22.651 ± 12.272 and 17.668 ± 7.353, respectively; P = 0.462).Conclusion:A single LVA created by the superior-edge-of-the-knee incision method can be expected to have a strong therapeutic effect in patients with stage 2 or 3 leg dermal backflow.

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