The specialists in the OSUCCC – James Lymphedema Center of Excellence provide exceptional, internationally recognized care specifically designed to offer comprehensive treatment for patients with lymphedema.
The Lymphedema Center of Excellence is one of the Midwest’s leading treatment centers for lymphedema-related care, with experts who reach across multiple medical disciplines (oncologists, hematologists, molecular and biological pathologists, genetic scientists, researchers and more) and utilize best practices to offer the very best personalized therapies in a patient-focused environment.
This multidisciplinary approach enables these specialists to provide convenient access to world-class surgical oncology, plastic surgery, oncology rehabilitation therapists with special accreditation in lymphedema care, dietary and nutritional support, MRL imaging (which provides a detailed look at the entire lymphatic system), specialized interventional radiology procedures, vascular medicine and much more.
Until recently, swelling-control typically involved using compression garments, getting a specialized massage and underdoing lymphedema physical therapy.
That, however, is now changing thanks to the addition of two innovative procedures offered at the OSUCCC – James by internationally recognized vascular surgeon Roman Skoracki, MD, who is the OSUCCC – James division chief of Reconstructive Oncologic Plastic Surgery, and his division colleagues. These lymphedema specialists are among only a few surgeons in the nation to perform these procedures.
LVA, which stands for lymphaticovenous bypass (or lymphatic bypass), is much like rerouting a highway to allow for better traffic flow. The OSUCCC – James experts re-route lymphatic channels into the blood stream, allowing lymph ﬂuids to drain into veins.
This dramatically alleviates swelling, pressure and other lymphedema symptoms. In fact, 96 percent of patients undergoing LVA see their symptoms improve, and in 60 percent of patients, the volume of the affected limb decreases substantially. This technique is especially effective for those with early-stage lymphedema.
VLNT stands for vascularized lymph node transfer. For this procedure, the experts transfer lymph nodes to the affected area. In fact, Skoracki, in collaboration with Ohio State Wexner Medical Center Surgeon Daniel Eiferman, MD, MBA, FACS, developed a new VLNT surgery (called jejunal mesenteric lymph node transfer), in which these specialists can transplant lymph nodes from tissues by attaching the bowel to the blood vessels. These tissues, known as mesentery tissues, have numerous lymph nodes within it.
Unlike other procedures that can increase a patient’s risk for developing a disorder in the previously unaffected limb, this groundbreaking new surgery carries no risk of developing lymphedema at the site from which the lymph nodes were taken. Additionally, more than one lymph node can be taken, and the area can be reused if any additional transfer is needed in the future.
The OSUCCC – James experts now offer this same approach as a preventative measure for high-risk breast cancer patients to minimize their risk of developing lymphedema.
By performing this procedure at the time of a lumpectomy or mastectomy, the patient’s risk of developing lymphedema is decreased by 90 percent.
Complex Decongestive Therapy
The OSUCCC – James certified physical therapists evaluate patients and create personalized lymphedema treatment plans that can include Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT).
The plan may include one or more of the following:
- Specialized Manual Therapy: The OSUCCC – James experts offer patients two types of manual therapy developed specifically to treat lymphedema:
- Manual Lymph Draining: a precise and gentle technique that helps move fluid to other parts of the body for clearance.
- Soft Tissue Mobilization (also known as myofascial release): Designed to loosen scar tissue and other tightness that might contribute to swelling. Often these techniques are taught to patients or family members to do at home.
- Exercise: This loosens tissues through strengthening and range-of-motion exercises and helps restore a more normal function level while improving fluid movement. It can also be helpful with weight control, which is a key component of lymphedema therapy.
- Bandaging Cotton: Usually combined with other treatment methods, bandaging cotton uses low-stretch bandages to apply constant pressure on the affected limb.
- Compression Garments: Elastic fabric garments, similar to a girdle or support stocking, put pressure on the arm or leg to help move fluid and help keep new fluid from collecting.
- Skin Care: The OSUCCC – James lymphedema care team shows patients how to treat skin carefully, avoid injury and infection, and practice extra hygiene and moisturizing techniques.
- Compression Therapy:
- Compression with low stretch bandaging with the goal of reducing the size of the extremity.
- Compression garments used to help maintain and manage the swelling as part of a home management program.
If you’ve been diagnosed with lymphedema, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a lymphedema specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.
As a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated comprehensive cancer center, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to treatments and novel therapies that may not be available anywhere else in the United States.
The OSUCCC – James Lymphedema Center of Excellence is home to a comprehensive lymphedema research program, from etiology (researching and discovering the cause of lymphedema) and basic science to phase I through III clinical trials.
The goal? To continue researching, making discoveries, and ultimately, to find a cure for lymphedema.