Lymphedema, which can be genetic or a side effect of surgical procedures, is the pathological accumulation of lymphatic fluid in tissues, caused by congestion in the body’s ‘lymphatic highways’. This can lead to swelling in the hands, arms, and legs. In some severe cases, the swelling can cause ‘elephant limbs’, which are painful and cumbersome, making simple actions like dressing or washing difficult. It’s a dramatically increasing pathology, affecting an estimated 350 million people globally, including 2 million in Italy, with about 40,000 new cases each year in the country. The good news is that lymphedema can be treated and even prevented. Specific genetic tests and lymphatic scintigraphy can map the risk of developing lymphedema, allowing for early intervention. 


These topics will be central to the 29th World Congress of the International Society of Lymphology, organized and promoted by the International Society of Lymphology (ISL), to be held in Genoa from September 11 to 15. The event will feature over 100 speakers from around the world and include conferences, refresher courses, and training generally dedicated to “Best Clinical Practice”, as well as specific technological updates in the medical, physical, and surgical fields for various lymphatic pathologies. This includes rare malformation-based diseases, oncological diseases, and lymphatic complications from the treatment of malignant tumors, with significant preventive clinical-therapeutic implications. 

District lymphatic pathologies will also be addressed, not only of the limbs but also of the abdomen (chyliferous lymphatic vessels) and thorax (thoracic duct). The congress will also focus on lipoma or phlebolymphedema. 

“The conference will examine technological innovations in imaging procedures for diagnosing and treating lymphatic diseases, as well as advances in operating microscope and microsurgical instrument technology, 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 obtain valuable information for surgical interventions. For example, for cancer patients recommended for surgical removal of a ‘suspicious’ lymph node or as a preventative measure, mapping the ‘lymphatic highways’ can predict the risk of developing lymphedema, thus 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 objectives is 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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