113 patients who developed lymphedema (LE) of the arm after radical or modified radical mastectomy were compared retrospectively with 113 patients who did not develop LE. In the LE group more patients had had radical mastectomy than in the control group. Infectious complications appeared to contribute to the appearance of LE. Patients with LE had significantly more early wound complications than those in the control group. These included infection, seroma, hematoma and sloughing of the wound edges. Postoperative radiation per se was not associated with LE, but radiodermatitis increased the incidence of LE significantly. Patients who developed late erysipelas in the arm on the operated side also had more marked LE. In the presence of two or more of the above mentioned complications the incidence of LE was particularly high. Strict attention to the technique of the operation and radiotherapy, as well as early and adequate treatment of any infection, may decrease the incidence of this irreversible complication.
|State||Published - 1983|