Lymphatic Disorders affect 2. 5 million patients in the United states alone.
In addition to arteries and veins, there are a third group of blood vessels that few people know about. These are the lymphatics. Lymphatics are tiny blood vessels that are extremely small and thin. They are invisible to the naked eye. Lymphatics collect fluid from the soft tissue and eventually empty this fluid into a vein in the chest.
Lymphatics can become blocked for several reasons:
- Scar tissue can form after surgery which obstructs the lymphatics. For example, patients who have had their saphenous vein taken for Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery can develop lymphedema in the leg from which the vein was taken.
- Scar tissue can result from radiation therapy used for treating cancer
- Lymphatic obstruction can occur for no apparent reason (Idiopathic Lymphedema).
- People can be born with obstructed lymphatics (Congenital Lymphedema)
When the lymphatics become blocked, the leg swells because fluid accumulates in the soft tissue. This is called lymphedema. The standard treatment for Lymphedema is elevation and compression therapy.
Visit the Leg Elevation Classroom to learn more about lymphatics and the role of daily leg elevation in improving lymphatic flow.