Stress Lymphoscintigraphy for Early Detection and Management of Secondary Limb Lymphedema

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Stress lymphoscintigraphy was performed within 1 year after surgery and the completion of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. All patients were classified by the International Society of Lymphology clinical stages from 0 to 3. A dose of 50 MBq of 99mTc-HSA-nanocolloidal in 0.4mL was injected intradermally at the first and fourth intermetacarpal spaces on the hand, for the upper limb with edema, or at the first intermetatarsal space and at the lateral malleolus for lower extremities. Two planar static scans at rest were acquired immediately after tracer injection. Stress scans were acquired after weight lifting for upper extremity or stepping for 2 minutes for lower-extremity edema. After that, the patients underwent prolonged muscular exercise limited by symptoms, and later scans were acquired at 60 minutes to visualize regional lymph nodes and the effects of sustained muscular exercise. Transport Index was evaluated.


Five patterns of lymphoscintigraphy were observed. In our experience, patients with types I to III pattern benefit from an exercise program as a first-line treatment. Patterns IVand V seem to be predictive of lymphedema.


The abnormal patterns found may provide the basis for earlier complex physical therapy or microsurgical treatment of lymphatic disorders in patients resulting in improved outcomes.

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