Lymphedema (Vascular Disease)

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The lymphatic system is a circulatory system that includes an extensive network of lymph vessels and lymph nodes. The lymphatic system helps coordinate the immune system's function to protect the body from foreign substances. Lymphedema is an abnormal build-up of fluid that causes swelling, most often in the arms or legs. Lymphedema develops when lymph vessels or lymph nodes are missing, impaired, damaged, or removed. Primary lymphedema is rare and is caused by the absence of certain lymph vessels at birth, or it may be caused by abnormalities in the lymphatic vessels. Secondary lymphedema occurs as a result of a blockage or interruption that alters the lymphatic system. Secondary lymphedema can develop from an infection, malignancy, surgery, scar tissue formation, trauma, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), radiation, or other cancer treatment. Anyone who underwent breast cancer surgery or any other surgical procedure involving the lymphatic system is at risk of developing lymphedema, which may occur immediately following the surgery, or months and years after the procedure. Early signs of lymphedema include heaviness of the limb, tight fitting rings or shoes, less flexibility, or infections in the extremity. A number of factors may contribute to the onset of lymphedema, or worsen existing symptoms, such as high levels of cholesterol or obesity. According to the National Cancer Institute, being overweight or obese may predispose women to developing lymphedema following breast cancer treatment. Here are the two different types of lymphedema and their possible causes: Primary lymphedema: this is caused by an abnormally developed lymph system, with signs and symptoms that may appear at birth or later in life. This form of lymphedema is less common. Primary lymphedema is typically inherited; Secondary lymphedema: this is caused by damage to the lymph system. Damage may occur due to an infection, injury or cancer. Secondary lymphedema may also occur due to certain medical procedures like the removal of the lymph nodes, radiation, or scar tissue that is caused by surgery or radiation therapy.


Laboratory Test Procedures:

hands swelling
feet swelling
face swelling
ankles swelling
swollen lymph nodes
trouble sleeping
pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in legs or arms
skin eruptions
decreased body hair
legs often ache and feel heavy and itchy
skin swelling
ongoing irritation, swelling, and painful rashes on the legs
tight fitting rings or shoes
infections in the extremity
heaviness of the limb
less flexibility

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