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Lymphedema Treatment Program

The Lymphedema Treatment Program at Memorial Regional Hospital, Memorial Hospital West and Memorial Hospital Pembroke provides comprehensive evaluation, treatment and support for patients with lymphedema.

Understanding Lymphedema

The lymphatic system is a network of lymph nodes and lymph vessels that carries and filters wastes, proteins, water and fat away from the body's cells. It also circulates infection-fighting cells as part of the body's immune system.

When the lymph nodes are damaged or removed through surgery, lymph fluid can back up. Lymphedema is an accumulation of this fluid that causes the surrounding body tissue to swell — most often in the arms and legs.

There are two main types of lymphedema:

  • Primary lymphedema — This type of lymphedema is of an "unknown cause," and can develop shortly after birth ("congenital") or at any age.
  • Secondary lymphedema — This is more common than primary lymphedema and usually occurs after surgical removal of the lymph nodes. For example, lymph nodes may be removed as part of the treatment for breast, prostate, cervical or uterine cancers.

Lymphedema also can result from other factors that cause blockage of the lymph nodes, such as radiation or scarring from infection.

Without treatment, lymphedema may reduce the amount of oxygen flowing to the tissues, interfere with wound healing and provide an environment where bacteria can multiply and cause infection. If this condition persists, the skin may thicken and harden, which is extremely painful and can limit movement and function of the affected limbs.

Is Your Doctor a Memorial Doctor?
If you are in need of lymphedema treatment and would like a referral to a South Florida physician, call Memorial Physician Referral Service toll-free at (800) 944-DOCS. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.