Preoperative planning of lymphaticovenous anastomosis: The use of magnetic resonance lymphangiography as a complement to indocyanine green lymphography.


Department of Plastic Surgery, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND : Lymphaticovenous anastomosis (LVA) is a surgical treatment for lymphedema that requires identification and mapping of functional lymphatic channels. This technique was performed blindly for years because of the lack of suitable methods of study. Progress in imaging techniques and the introduction of Indocyanine green lymphography (ICG-L) represented a significant advancement in lymphedema management. Magnetic resonance lymphangiography (MRL) has also helped improve knowledge about lymphedema anatomy and pathophysiology. We now present our protocol based on both ICG-L and MRL for optimal LVA preoperative planning.
METHODS : A prospective study between April 2010 and June 2015 was conducted in 82 patients (77 females, mean age 45.5 years) with stage I (9.8%), II (73.2%), and III (17.0%) lymphedema. All patients underwent lymphedema surgical treatment with LVA. Surgery was planned based on preoperative information from ICG- L and MRL.
RESULTS : We obtained a mean of 6.87 lymphatic locations per extremity from MRL and selected a mean of 4.04 for LVA. When MRL data coincided with ICG-L data, we found a functional lymphatic vessel in 96.9% of cases and performed LVA successfully in 91.4%.
CONCLUSIONS : ICG-L and MRL are noninvasive techniques that provide images of the lymphatic system with sufficient temporal and spatial resolution to depict functional lymphatic vessels. Such knowledge is essential for preoperative planning of LVA microsurgery. We present our protocol for the approach of surgical treatment of lymphedema. This protocol represents a step forward in unifying patient selection criteria and achieving safe, effective, and rational surgery.


Breast cancer,Indocyanine green lymphography,Lymphaticovenous anastomosis,Lymphedema,Magnetic resonance lymphangiography,