JOURNAL ARTICLE

Reversal of abnormal lymphoscintigraphy after placement of venous stents for correction of associated venous obstruction

S Raju, S Owen, P Neglen
Journal of Vascular Surgery 2001, 34 (5): 779-84
11700475

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to report improvement or normalization of abnormal lymphoscintigraphy in swollen lower limbs after correction of associated venous stenosis by balloon dilatation and placement of venous stent of the iliac veins.

MATERIAL: Twenty-six patients with lower-limb swelling underwent balloon dilatation and placement of venous stent of the iliac veins for correction of venous stenosis. Technetium 99M-sulfur colloid lymphoscintigraphy was also abnormal (8 absent, 18 reduced) before stent placement in all 26 limbs, suggesting combined venous/lymphatic etiology for the limb swelling. Median age was 53 years. Male-to-female ratio was 1:8 and left-to-right ratio, 3:1. Fifteen patients had limb pain associated with the swelling. Severity of venous stenosis was generally underestimated by preoperative transfemoral venography as compared with intravascular ultrasound, (mean, 50% versus 77%); in five limbs (19%), transfemoral venography altogether failed to identify the venous lesion evident on intravascular ultrasound. The etiology of venous obstruction was post-thrombotic in nine limbs and nonthrombotic (web, stricture, or May-Thurner syndrome) in 17 limbs.

RESULTS: Poststent lymphoscintigraphy completely normalized in 10 limbs, improved but remained abnormal in 9, and remained unchanged in 7. Clinical follow-up (mean, 1 year) showed improvement in swelling in 16 of 26 limbs (P <.022), with complete resolution of swelling in six; degree of pain also improved (P <.02), with total relief of pain in 9 of 15 patients. There was also significant improvement in all categories of a quality of life questionnaire.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that patients with a diagnosis of lymphedema made on the basis of lymphoscintigraphy alone and consigned to conservative therapy on that basis may benefit from additional venous investigations regardless of clinical presentation suggestive of lymphedema. This report supports the practice of aggressively searching for a venous basis of edema in these patients. Correction of the venous lesion may result in normalization or improvement of the lymphoscintigraphic abnormality and in any case may yield significant symptom relief, even in some limbs where the lymphoscintigraphic abnormality failed to improve after placement of venous stent.

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