Obesity linked to lower-extremity lymphedema

Share this article:
Link Between Obesity and Lower-Extremity Lymphedema Explored
Link Between Obesity and Lower-Extremity Lymphedema Explored

HealthDay News -- Extreme obesity may contribute to lower-extremity lymphedema, results from a small study suggest.

Average BMI was significantly greater for those with confirmed lymphedema (70.1 versus 42.0 kg/m2, P<0.001) among 15 obese patients with enlargement of the legs, Arin K. Greene, MD, from Children's Hospital Boston, and colleagues reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Our findings suggest that obesity, which affects one-third of the population in the United States, may be a cause of lower-extremity lymphedema. As BMI increases, there might be a threshold above which lymphatic flow becomes impaired," the researchers wrote.

All patients included in the study were referred for bilateral enlargement of the lower extremities. Twelve were women, the mean age was 58 and the mean BMI was 51.4 kg/m2. No patients had a history of primary (idiopathic) lymphedema, inguinal lymphadenectomy or radiation, or ulceration of a lower extremity.

Patients underwent lymphoscintigraphy, which has a specificity of 100% and a sensitivity of 92%, to detect lymphedema. Abnormal lymphatic draining consistent with lymphedema was detected in five patients. 

All patients with a BMI higher than 59 kg/m² had lymphedema, while lymphatic function was normal for all those with a BMI below 54 kg/m².

"Although lymphedema is typically progressive, we speculate that major weight loss (e.g., after a bariatric procedure) might reverse lymphatic insufficiency in obese patients with this condition," the researchers wrote.

Greene A et al. N Engl J Med. 2012; 366: 2136-2137.

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of Clinical Advisor to post a comment.
close

Next Article in Web Exclusives

More in Web Exclusives

Empagliflozin approved to treat diabetes

Empagliflozin approved to treat diabetes

Pivotal trials showed that empagliflozin improved hemoglobin A1c levels compared with placebo.

Presence, pain intensity, itch may be a sign of skin cancer

Presence, pain intensity, itch may be a sign ...

The prevalence of itch was 36.9%, and the prevalence of pain was 28.2% across all skin cancer, but these symptoms were mainly absent in melanomas

Travel warning issued after Ebola outbreak worsens in West Africa

Travel warning issued after Ebola outbreak worsens in ...

Agency also plans to send 50 more experts to the affected countries.