Lymphedema and Lymphovenous Bypass: Perioperative Nursing Implications

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Volume 111, Issue 2 - February 2020
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Lymphedema and Lymphovenous Bypass: Perioperative Nursing Implications

Lymphedema—the accumulation of fluid in tissues, usually in the upper and lower extremities—often results from lymph node dissection or radiation and can cause painful and debilitating swelling that may interfere with a patient’s daily living activities and quality of life. The goal of treatment for lymphedema is to reduce the volume of fluid in the affected area. Lymphedema is staged according to presenting characteristics, and interventions may be surgical or nonsurgical, such as complex decongestive therapy. Lymphovenous bypass is a surgical procedure performed for the management of lymphedema and involves rerouting microvascular channels to allow for the drainage of fluid that has accumulated in the lymphatic tissue of the upper or lower extremities. It requires supermicrosurgery techniques because of the small size of the vessels being anastomosed. Perioperative nursing implications for lymphovenousbypass include OR preparation and providing emotional support for patients living with lymphedema.

Key words: lymphedema, lymph node, lymphovenous bypass, cancer treatment, quality of life.