[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
February 1957

Surgical Treatment of Lymphedema of the Upper Extremities

Author Affiliations

New York
Dr. Levine was a Fellow in Cardiovascular Surgery in New York. He is now in Montreal, Canada.; From the Department of Surgery and the Vascular Clinic of St. Vincent's Hospital and the New York University College of Medicine.

AMA Arch Surg. 1957;74(2):183-188. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1957.01280080033003

We have been interested in the surgical therapy of various types of lymphedema for the last 20 years and have operated on more than 150 patients with this disease. It is both epidemic and endemic. More recently we have described and discussed an operation for lymphedema of the lower extremities which, in most patients, has proved quite satisfactory.1-4 Lymphedema of the upper extremity, because of its location, the obvious necessity for the use of the hands, and because of the extent of the physical and psychic damage this condition causes, poses a special surgical problem. Owing to the time factor, no history or details of previous therapy on lymphedema is included in this discussion.

Embryology  The lymph system originates, like the vascular system, by a transformation from venous endothelium into paired tubes or sacs which fuse into the jugular and iliac lymph channels from the jugular and iliac veins.