What is a lymphatic malformation?
A lymphatic malformation is an abnormality of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system forms part of the immune system that identifies and fights off invaders, such as bacteria and viruses consisting of a network of vessels within the body through which lymph circulates, and many lymph nodes which filter the lymph fluid and help the body fight infection. The specific symptoms and severity of lymphatic malformations varies based upon the size and specific location of the malformation. Some lymphatic malformations can be massive. Lymphatic malformations regardless of size can potentially cause functional impairment of nearby structures or organs and disfigurement of affected areas.
How can lymphatic malformations be treated?
There are two main options for treatment: sclerotherapy and surgical removal.
This is a procedure carried out by an interventional radiologist, who shrinks the lymphatic vessels by injecting a special substance through the skin under general anaesthetic. It may require several sclerotherapy sessions and even then, it might grow again.
Sometimes, lymphatic malformations can be removed safely. Detailed scans will be needed to plan the operation. There will be a certain amount of scarring after the operation, as with all surgery.
The above information is not all inclusive of the risks, alternatives and benefits. It is not meant to be a substitute for informed discussion between you and your doctor, but can act as a starting point for such a discussion. There are complications possible with any medical procedure. Overall, minimally invasive procedures have a lower complication rate than open surgeries.