In 20 patients with congenital and acquired lymphedema in either upper or lower extremities and in four patients without extremity edema, human serum albumin labeled with technetium-99m was injected intradermally into a digital web space of the hand or foot. With a digital gamma camera that permitted a 'sweep' of the torso, serial extremity and whole-body lymphangioscintigraphy (LAS) of the peripheral lymphatic system was performed. In 11 patients with acquired lymphedema, a well-defined obstructive pattern was seen, characterized by discrete peripheral lymphatic trunks, delayed or absent depiction of regional nodes, and delayed but extensive soft-tissue tracer extravasation. Five of nine patients with congenital lymphedema showed hypoplasia characterized by poorly defined lymphatic trunks, delayed depiction of regional nodes, and early and extensive extravasation of tracer. The other four patients showed aplasia, with absence of trunks, no depiction of nodes, and little or no tracer extravasation. LAS is technically simple to perform and requires no special training. Radiation exposure is minuscule, and the procedure is safe and without apparent side effects. For these reasons, whole-body LAS should be the preferred method for the initial assessment of congenital or acquired lymphedema.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging