Your Health: New lymphedema treatment options
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Lymphedema is a condition where fluid gets trapped in an arm or leg and causes swelling, most often after cancer surgery to remove lymph nodes.
Until recently, patients were told there was nothing they could do, except wear a compression sleeve to control the swelling.
Now, surgeons have better options for some patients. One of those patients is Pandora Porcase, who has been a musician for 60 years.
“I can make a pipe organ sound awesome,” Porcase said.
But 35 years ago, Porcase was diagnosed with cancer in her left breast, and it had spread.
“I had 33 nodes that were positive,” Porcase said.
Doctors treated the cancer and removed the cancerous nodes. Months later, Porcase’s arm started to swell – a condition called lymphedema.
“I saw the growth in my hand, my wrist, in my forearm,” Porcase said.
She still wears a glove and compression sleeve, like this, to control the swelling. But in 2014, doctors diagnosed her with cancer in her right breast. This time, when the swelling started again, reconstructive plastic surgeon Dr. Roman Skoracki had a plan.
“We actually transplanted lymph nodes from one part of her body into two different areas of her upper extremity,” Dr. Skoracki said.
Dr. Skoracki also performed a lymphovenous bypass. Using microsurgery, he bypassed damaged nodes and connected them to veins so the fluids could drain. The doctor also used liposuction to clear the arm of deposits.
“We remove the fat that’s underneath the skin with our cannula,” Dr. Skoracki said.
Porcase’s arm isn’t perfect, but she now has good control over her hands and fingers.
“It’s wonderful to see her be able to do the things that she loves to do,” Dr. Skoracki said of her recovery.
“I just love it,” Porcase said of the pipe organ. “I love the sound of it. It’s the king of all instruments.”
It’s a surgery that keeps Porcase perfectly in tune.
Dr. Skoracki says the surgery has improved in the eight years since pandora Porchase’s second case of cancer.
Surgeons now can perform the bypass at the same time the lymph nodes are removed, which minimizes the risk of the patient developing lymphedema.
Subscribe to our News 10 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning.
Copyright 2022 WILX. All rights reserved.