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To conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) on the efficacy of immediate lymphatic reconstruction (ILR) for decreasing the incidence of breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) after axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). Despite encouraging results in small studies, an appropriately powered RCT on ILR has not been performed. Women undergoing ALND for breast cancer were randomized in the operating room 1:1 to either ILR, if technically feasible, or no ILR (control). The ILR group underwent lymphatic anastomosis to a regional vein using microsurgical techniques; control group had no repair and cut lymphatics were ligated. Relative volume change (RVC), bioimpedance, quality of life (QoL), and compression use were evaluated at baseline and every 6 months postoperatively up to 24 months. Indocyanine green (ICG) lymphography was performed at baseline and 12 and 24 months postoperatively. The primary outcome was the incidence of BCRL, defined as ≥10% RVC from baseline in the affected extremity at 12-, 18-, or 24-month follow-up. Of 72 patients randomized to ILR and 72 to control from January 2020 to March 2023, our preliminary analysis includes 99 patients with 12-month follow-up, 70 with 18-month follow-up, and 40 with 24-month follow-up. The cumulative incidence of BCRL was 9.5% in the ILR group and 32% in the control group ( P =0.014). The ILR group had lower bioimpedance values, decreased compression usage, better lymphatic function on ICG lymphography, and better QoL than the control group. Preliminary results of our RCT show that ILR after ALND decreases BCRL incidence. Our goal is to finish the accrual of 174 patients with 24-month follow-up. Copyright © 2023 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


Michelle Coriddi, Joseph Dayan, Emily Bloomfield, Leslie McGrath, Richard Diwan, Jasmine Monge, Julia Gutierrez, Stav Brown, Lillian Boe, Babak Mehrara. Efficacy of Immediate Lymphatic Reconstruction to Decrease Incidence of Breast Cancer-related Lymphedema: Preliminary Results of Randomized Controlled Trial. Annals of surgery. 2023 Oct 01;278(4):630-637

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PMID: 37314177

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