Lymphocele is the term used to describe an abnormal collection of lymphatic fluid that can take place at various sites in the body. It is usually not covered by a membrane such as the epithelial lining as in the case of other fluid filled cysts and could vary in its size depending on the cause, site and the measures taken to prevent its accumulation.
What causes a Lymphocele?
A Lymphocele is believed to be the result of excessive damage to the lymphatic system, most likely following complex surgical procedures or traumatic accidents. During such instances, there may be damages caused to the ductules of the lymphatic system which can vary in its complexity from one place of the body to another. When the surgeries and traumatic injuries are more extensive, it can damage more lymphatic tissues at one place. In most instances, following such injuries, the body will reabsorb the leaking lymph back in to the system until the damage is healed. However, when the accumulating capacity of the body exceeds the volume of leakage, the lymph could accumulate giving rise to a Lymphocele.
In most instances, when raw surfaces resulting from surgeries or injuries remain unopposed or opposed without much tension, the space between the surfaces could act as a ‘sac’. However, application of enough pressure over the raw surfaces without stressing the wound itself could prevent such spaces being formed and therefore reduce the potential of forming a Lymphocele. But, in major surgeries, this may not always be possible and the unopposed raw surfaces remaining at the surgical or injury site could be high.
In some instances, complications other than the formation of a Lymphocele such as infections at the site of injury and collection of blood could also lead to the formation of a Lymphocele as a secondary effect.
When considering the surgeries which can give rise to a Lymphocele more often, surgeries done in order to prevent the spread of cancers are high in the list. Breast surgeries, pelvic surgeries and thoracic surgeries are some of the instances where the formation of a Lymphocele may be far greater.
What are the treatment options available for Lymphocele?
The treatment includes placing a drainage tube to extract the accumulating fluids until the leakage becomes tolerable to the body’s re-absorption capacity. In instances where the Lymphocele recur, there may be a need to re-do a surgery to minimize the raw surfaces that are not opposed to each other. Wearing tight garments or a dressing could also be used in instances where such pressures can affect the raw surfaces or potential dead spaces where lymph accumulation can take place.
Apart from these treatment modalities, patients suffering from Lymphocele should also be given pain relievers and sometimes antibiotics in order to reduce the discomfort and the potential for infection respectively,