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Secondary lymphedema is one of the sequella of cancer treatment that in inadequately understood. The purpose of the present study is to investigate lymphedema formation and to explore the escape routes for excess interstitial fluid using lymphadenectomy in a rat model. In twelve Wistar rats, lymph nodes in the right inguinal and popliteal fossas were completely removed and lymph vessels carefully ligated. After operation, treated hind limbs were evaluated by indocyanine green lymphography and circumferential measurement. Both evaluations were performed from day 3 to ten weeks. Approximately 2 to 3 weeks after operation, a network-like pattern of the fluorescent signal appeared around the surgical site which then transitioned into a linear pattern in the lower abdomen. Videorecordings identified fluorescent flow moving from the lower abdomen to the ipsilateral axillary lymph node and in some rats, the network-like pattern was also observed to pass transversely over the suprapubic region to the contralateral inguinal lymph nodes. The network-like pattern on the lower abdomen and the linear pattern to the axillary fossa were seen continuously to the end of observation. Circumferential measurements of the treated hind limbs increased initially and then declined over time. This imaging system may be useful to detect early changes in lymphatic flow before swelling occurs and further study is needed.


Y Takeno, E Fujimoto. Alterations of lymph flow after lymphadenectomy in rats revealed by real time fluorescence imaging system. Lymphology. 2013 Mar;46(1):12-9

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PMID: 23930437

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