Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lymphedema of the lower limbs: management problems in a developing country

Lymphedema of the lower limbs: management problems in a developing country

Nig Q J Hosp Med. 2008 Apr-Jun

Adigun AI, Ogundipe OK.
Department of Surgery, Univerity of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Nigeria.

BACKGROUND: Lymphoedema is a clinical condition involving the extremities that is characterized by accumulation of protein rich fluid within the intercellular space of the skin and the subcutaneous tissue. It most frequently occurs in the extremities. Developing countries are mostly faced with cases of secondary lymphoedema where patients present lately. In addition to swollen limbs, there are lot of skin changes on the affected limb, these create a lot of problems to the managing clinician. We hereby present five cases out of several patients managed to highlight the challenges.

METHODS: We review the case notes of three patients managed by our unit and present the summary of each patient.

RESULT: Majority of our patients present late to the hospital, mainly because of the socio-cultural and spiritual beliefs concerning the aetiology of the condition. Most of them have visited the spiritualist, herbalist and the clergymen for solution. Clinicians in the developing countries are seriously handicapped by lack of modern equipment for both diagnostic and therapeutic management of these clinical conditions.

CONCLUSION: Chronic lymphoedema is a major cause of permanent disability. Excisional surgery such as Charles procedure even though old is still very much relevant in our environment. Patients need to be enlightened on the need for early presentation, adequate post-operative care and prolonged follow-up.

PMID: 19068559 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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