Lymphedema (LE) occurs when there is impairment to the lymphatic system, disrupting normal transport of fluid within the body. When the lymphatic system becomes overwhelmed, damaged, or blocked for an extended period of time, lasting swelling (referred to as chronic edema) occurs.

Symptoms related to Lymphedema can be present anywhere in the body including the head, neck, arms, legs, trunk and genitals. For most patients, lymphedema has a negative impact on one’s quality of life.

Performing daily activities of cooking, shopping, cleaning, and yard work can often become difficult, if not impossible, for people that suffer from lymphedema. For people with head and neck LE, functions such as swallowing, breathing and range of motion can become critical.

Over time, the accumulation of fluid can result in significant changes in the structure of the tissues causing thickening and hardening of the skin, referred to as fibrosis. Recurrent skin infections such as erysipelas and cellulitis, a more serious skin infection, are common complications of lymphedema.

How is Lymphedema diagnosed and treated?

If you’re at risk of lymphedema — for instance, Chronic Venous Insufficiency or if you’ve recently had cancer surgery involving your lymph nodes — your doctor may diagnose lymphedema based on your signs and symptoms.

If the cause of your lymphedema isn’t as obvious, your doctor may order imaging tests to get a look at your lymph system. Tests may include:

  • Doppler ultrasound. This variation of the conventional ultrasound looks at blood flow and pressure by bouncing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off red blood cells. Ultrasound can help find obstructions.
  • MRI scan. Using a magnetic field and radio waves, an MRI produces 3-D, high-resolution images.
  • CT scan. This X-ray technique produces detailed, cross-sectional images of your body’s structures. CT scans can reveal blockages in the lymphatic system.
  • Radionuclide imaging of your lymphatic system (lymphoscintigraphy). During this test you’re injected with a radioactive dye and then scanned by a machine. The resulting images show the dye moving through your lymph vessels, highlighting blockages.

Currently, there is no cure for lymphedema, but the symptoms can be managed and patients who are educated about effective treatment options can improve their quality of life. Treatment focuses on reducing the swelling and controlling the pain. 

Lymphedema is a permanent condition that can worsen over time if not properly treated.  When untreated, lymphedema can become painful and debilitating.

Treatment for Lymphedema at San Tan Cardiovascular Center

San Tan Cardiovascular recommends the Flexitouch Plus at home pneumatic compression therapy for the management of lymphedema.

Please contact our office for more information. One of our trained Lymphedema technicians will be happy to meet with you to discuss your symptoms and testing and to see if pneumatic compression therapy is right for you.

How do I get started?

Contact San Tan Cardiovascular Center today to make an appointment with one of our healthcare providers.

At this appointment:

  • we will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms and perform a non-invasive, diagnostic test to further determine your medical condition,
  • any pertinent testing that needs to be done beforehand will also be ordered at this time.

Our billing department will then contact your health insurance company to obtain prior authorization.  Upon receiving insurance authorization, the procedure will be scheduled.