Rome, Monday, August 28, 2023 – Lymphedema, a pathological accumulation of lymphatic fluid in tissues, can be due to genetic factors or a side effect of surgical procedures. It essentially causes congestion in one or more points of the body’s “lymphatic highways,” leading to swelling in the hands, arms, and legs. In some cases, the swelling becomes so severe that it leads to “elephant limbs,” which are painful and cumbersome, making simple actions like dressing or washing difficult. This condition is dramatically increasing, with an estimated 350 million people affected worldwide and 2 million in Italy alone. The numbers are rising, with about 40,000 new cases per year in Italy. 


The good news is that lymphedema can be treated and even prevented. Specific genetic tests and lymphatic scintigraphy can map the risk of lymphedema formation, enabling proactive measures. 

These will be among the themes at the center of the 29th World Congress of the International Society of Lymphology, to be held in Genoa from September 11 to 15. With over 100 speakers from around the world, the event will include conferences, refresher courses, and training generally dedicated to “Best Clinical Practice,” as well as specific technological update courses in the medical, physical, and surgical fields for various lymphatic pathologies.

This includes rare diseases based on malformations, oncological diseases, and lymphatic complications of the treatment of malignant tumors, with important preventive clinical-therapeutic implications. District lymphatic pathologies, not only of the limbs but also of the abdomen (chyliferous lymphatic vessels) and thorax (thoracic duct), will also be addressed. The congress will also focus on lipoma or phlebolymphedema. 

“The conference will examine technological innovations related to ‘imaging’ procedures for diagnosing and treating lymphatic diseases, as well as advancements in the use of operating microscopes and microsurgical instruments, including new liposuction techniques for lymphatic pathology,” says Corrado Campisi, President of the World Congress of Lymphology and Professor of Plastic Surgery at the University of Catania.

“We will focus on genes associated with lymphatic pathologies, which are the root of rare syndromes and predisposition to lymphatic deficits. With lymphatic scintigraphy and new applications of fluorescence lymphography, we can map specific crucial sites and gather valuable information for surgical interventions. For example, in cancer patients recommended for surgical removal of a ‘suspicious’ lymph node or as a preventative measure, lymphatic ‘highway’ maps can help predict the risk of developing lymphedema, thereby suggesting safer alternatives or preventive therapeutic interventions.” 

Specific sessions will be dedicated to minimally invasive surgical techniques and the use of shockwave treatments capable of “dissolving” tougher congestions, making the use of the scalpel simpler and more effective. 

One of the Congress’s goals is also to offer a global overview of Clinical Lymphology, with a biennial update, particularly of the “Consensus Document” of the International Society of Lymphology on the Diagnosis and Therapy of Lymphedema, representing the most epidemiologically, socially, and clinically relevant expression in the field of lymphatic diseases. 


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