Lymphedema is defined as a chronic condition, caused by lymphostasis. A major part in the Western world consists of iatrogenic lymphedema caused by surgery to the lymph nodes of the axilla or groin. Prophylactic lymphovenous anastomosis (LVA) could be beneficial in the prevention of lymphedema of the extremities. These procedures require experienced supramicrosurgeons and can be time consuming, which might be the reasons why prophylactic LVA has not yet been widely implemented in the treatment of cancer. Due to the small diameter of lymphatic vessels, it remains challenging to identify the lumen, and therefore, anastomoses are prone to back wall stitching. Different inventive procedures have been described making use of stents or monofilament sutures.
In this article, we describe a newly developed and straightforward technique for LVA in 4 patients who underwent an axilla dissection and 1 patient who underwent a dissection of the groin lymph nodes. This latter approach makes use of clipping of the lymphatic vessel during lymph node dissection, and remains ligated during anastomosis. The candidate vein was the V. thoracodorsalis for the axilla and the V. circumflexa superficialis for the groin. We describe the feasibility, average duration, and complications.
We believe that this approach might be of value in popularizing LVA in the treatment or prevention of different conditions such as breast cancer-related lymphedema.