Monday, March 05, 2012

Acute Lymphedema

Acute versus gradual-onset lymphedema

There are four types of acute lymphedema.

Type One Acute Lymphedema

The first type of acute lymphedema is mild and lasts only a short time, occurring a few days after surgery to remove the lymph nodes or after injury to the lymphatic vessels or veins just under the collarbone. The affected limb may be warm and slightly red, but is usually not painful and gets better within a week by keeping the affected arm or leg supported in a raised position and by contracting the muscles in the affected limb (for example, making a fist and releasing it).

Type Two Acute Lymphedema

The second type of acute lymphedema occurs 6 to 8 weeks after surgery or during a course of radiation therapy. This type may be caused by inflammation of either lymphatic vessels or veins. The affected limb is tender, warm or hot, and red and is treated by keeping the limb supported in a raised position and taking anti-inflammatory drugs.

Type Three Acute Lymphedema

The third type of acute lymphedema occurs after an insect bite, minor injury, or burn that causes an infection of the skin and the lymphatic vessels near the skin surface. It may occur on an arm or leg that is chronically swollen. The affected area is red, very tender, and hot and is treated by supporting the affected arm or leg in a raised position and taking antibiotics A compression pump should not be used and the affected area should not be wrapped with elastic bandages during the early stages of infection. Mild redness may continue after the infection.

Type Four Acute Lymphedema

The fourth and most common type of acute lymphedema develops very slowly and may become noticeable 18 to 24 months after surgery or not until many years after cancer treatment. The patient may experience discomfort of the skin; aching in the neck, shoulders, spine, or hips caused by stretching of the soft tissues or overuse of muscles; or posture changes caused by increased weight of the arm or leg. Lymphedema PDQ