Congenital Lymphedema

A comprehensive overview of lymphedema covering subjects as symptoms, diagnostics, research, causes and pictures
Congenital Lymphedema

Congenital lymphedema

     Lymphedema refers to the hereditary condition in which excessive amount of fluid becomes accumulated under subcutaneous tissue of the body. Most commonly the extremities of the body such as arms and legs get affected especially below the level of waist. In our body the lymphatic system is considered as a defensive system of the body. It consists of lymphatic vessels which carry lymph throughout the body and getting it filtered from the lymph nodes.

     Congenital lymphedema is a condition in which there are very few lymph vessels present in the body. As a result of lessened number of these vessels, all the lymph can not be handled. This problem is mostly affecting the legs and less likely affecting the arms. Similarly, women are more likely to get affected by the congenital lymphedema as compared to men.

     Congenital lymphedema occurs due to dysfunction of the lymphatic system. This leads to the abnormal accumulation of lymphatic fluid under subcutaneous tissue of the body. Whenever there is blockage in the lymphatic channels or the lymph can not be carried away from the tissues, lymphedema occurs. It therefore leads to the extreme swelling of the limbs. The affected limbs show disfigurement and a feeling of heaviness. It is also very painful and cause tingling sensation and numbness of the affected limbs. Congenital lymphedema most commonly occur unilaterally. In uncommon conditions both the legs may get affected as well.

     Congenital lymphedema consists of three main types; Milroy's disease, lymphedema praecox meige, and lymphedema tarda. All these are inherited as autosomal dominant diseases. In the beginning puffiness starts appearing in the feet and the shoes become tight. The shoes may leave indentations on the feet. In early stages, the puffiness disappears whenever legs are elevated from the bed. But as the time passes this disorder gets worsened. The swelling appears to get severe and doe not seem to disappear even after resting the leg in bed for longer period of time.

     Congenital lymphedema can be easily diagnosed with the help of CT Scan , MRI and Doppler ultrasound scans. There are no proper medications for congenital lymphedema. Only that can be done is control of the swelling, decrease of the discomfort and pain along with other signs and symptoms. The best treatment so far is the compression treatments which help in the prevention of the development of excessive amount of swelling. The compression techniques may include the elastic sleeves and stockings, bandages, manual compression techniques and the pneumatic compression devices. There are also various exercises which help in decreasing the swelling of the affected limbs.

     There are also surgical procedures which can be implied to help remove the excessive amount of lymph from the affected limbs but this should be kept in mind that these surgical procedures do not actually cure the condition of lymphedema. Congenital lymphedema can be prevented by simple maneuvers which are cheap as well. These include the elevation of the limbs above the level of heart, avoidance of heat and maintaining the skin moisture.

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