The third circulation: Radionuclide lymphoscintigraphy in the evaluation of lymphedema JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MEDICINE Szuba, A., Shin, W. S., Strauss, H. W., Rockson, S. 2003; 44 (1): 43-57


Lymphedema-edema that results from chronic lymphatic insufficiency-is a chronic debilitating disease that is frequently misdiagnosed, treated too late, or not treated at all. There are, however, effective therapies for lymphedema that can be implemented, particularly after the disorder is properly diagnosed and characterized with lymphoscintigraphy. On the basis of the lymphoscintigraphic image pattern, it is often possible to determine whether the limb swelling is due to lymphedema and, if so, whether compression garments, massage, or surgery is indicated. Effective use of lymphoscintigraphy to plan therapy requires an understanding of the pathophysiology of lymphedema and the influence of technical factors such as selection of the radiopharmaceutical, imaging times after injection, and patient activity after injection on the images. In addition to reviewing the anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system, we review physiologic principles of lymphatic imaging with lymphoscintigraphy, discuss different qualitative and quantitative lymphoscintigraphic techniques and their clinical applications, and present clinical cases depicting typical lymphoscintigraphic findings.

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