Massive localized lymphedema (MLL) is a unique presentation of lymphedema resulting in a large, benign, painless mass that develops in morbidly obese patients, most commonly on the medial thigh. Because nearly 6% of the United States adult population is morbidly obese, MLL is believed to be under-diagnosed. To better guide the clinician in identifying and treating MLL, a case study of a 44-year-old Caucasian woman with type I diabetes who presented to the study wound care clinic with MLL is reported, along with the experience of managing more than 70 patients with MLL. A diagnosis of MLL is usually made based on clinical history and presentation. Routine tissue biopsy is not advisable, and diagnostic tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be impossible due to the morbid obesity of most patients. Complete decongestive physiotherapy (CDP) is recommended. Although surgical removal of the MLL collection may be possible, it is technically difficult and not always advisable due to the risk of perioperative complications, including wound dehiscence. Furthermore, in the author’s experience, recurrence is possible even after surgical removal, particularly if conscientious adherence to compression and weight management do not continue. The advent of advanced pneumatic compression devices designed for the morbidly obese and the possibility of using near-infrared fluorescence imaging to guide treatment may transform the MLL management process. Considering the increasing number of MLL cases, the comorbidities and complexities of treating morbidly obese patients, and associated complications, clinicians caring for the morbidly obese need a heightened awareness of this condition.
Potential Conflicts of Interest: Dr. Fife is Chief Medical Officer, Intellicure, Inc, The Woodlands, TX. ... continue reading about Massive Localized Lymphedema, a Disease Unique to the Morbidly Obese: A Case Study