Lymphedema is a complex, regional edematous state that ensues when lymph transport is insufficient to maintain tissue homeostasis. The disorder is remarkably prevalent, but the population implications of lymphatic dysfunction are not well-studied. Prevalence estimates for lymphedema are relatively high, yet its prevalence is likely underestimated. The ability to estimate the burden of disease poses profound implications for current and future lymphedema patients, but the challenge to correctly surmise the incidence and prevalence of lymphedema is complex and the relevant medical literature is scanty. In the absence of the highly desired, prospectively designed and rigorously performed relevant epidemiologic studies, it is instructive to look at the existing studies of lymphedema disease burden. In the current review, the extant literature is examined in the context of the disease setting in which tissue edema is encountered. Incidence or prevalence estimates are provided or inferred, and, where feasible, the size of the subject population is also identified. It is extremely attractive to contemplate that future approaches will entail formal, prospectively designed studies to objectively quantitate incidence and prevalence statistics for individual categories, as well as for the global lymphedema population.
View details for DOI 10.1196/annals.1413.014
View details for PubMedID 18519968