THE subject of postoperative swelling of the upper extremity following mastectomy has not been sufficiently discussed in the literature presumably because of the incomplete knowledge or confusing clinicopathologic explanations based entirely on organic or pathologic evidence. However, in view of the increasing knowledge being accumulated on the interrelationships of the circulatory system and its neurovascular components, namely, the sympathetic ganglions that arise at the various levels of the nervous system, it is only fitting that a better understanding of the functions of the sympathetic nervous system be set forth in a discussion of the treatment of this most distressing, disfiguring and, at times, dangerous complication.
In discussing the subject of surgical elephantiasis, especially that following mastectomy, Homans1 stated that the swelling occurs in a freakish way and that an axillary dissection alone in the event of a mistaken diagnosis of cancer is capable of producing it, though not in
HANELIN HA, WILLIAMS JM, WOLFFSON SM, WERNICK ED. TREATMENT OF POSTOPERATIVE SWELLING OF THE ARM FOLLOWING MASTECTOMYPreliminary Report. Arch Surg. 1947;55(6):723-731. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1947.01230080734008