Penha, T. R., Ijsbrandy, C., Hendrix, N. A., Heuts, E. M., Voogd, A. C., von Meyenfeldt, M. F., & van der Hulst, R. R. (2013). Microsurgical techniques for the treatment of breast cancer-related lymphedema: A systematic review. Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery, 29(2), 99–106.doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1329919
To summarize available literature on lymphatic microsurgery for breast cancer-related lymphedema
Patients were undergoing the active antitumor treatment phase of care.
Very limited evidence exists regarding the efficacy of microsurgical techniques for the prevention and management of upper extremity lymphedema in patients with breast cancer who had axillary lymph node excision. The best findings were seen with inguinal lymph node transfer. Consistent positive findings and minimal reported adverse effects were reported. However, high quality-evidence is lacking.
Findings are limited because of the low number of studies, small samples, and lack of high-quality research. Additionally, follow-up duration varied, and most studies did not report rates related to the ability to discontinue conservative management for lymphedema.
Microsurgical techniques for the prevention of lymphedema are promising; however, further high-quality research studies with long-term follow-up are needed.