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Rev Bras Ginecol Obstet. 2013 Apr;35(4):171-7.

[Venous and lymphatic alterations in women with lymphedema after axillary lymphadenectomy in breast cancer treatment].

[Article in Portuguese]

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  • 1Pós-Graduação em Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal de Goiás, UFG, Goiânia (GO), Brasil.



To evaluate changes in the venous axillary-subclavian and lymphatic systems of women with lymphedema after axillary lymphadenectomy for breast cancer treatment.


This was a case series involving 11 women with unilateral upper limb lymphedema after axillary lymphedenectomy for the treatment of breast cancer. The study was carried out in the Mastology Program of the Clinical Hospital of the Federal University of Goiás, Goiânia, GO, during the period between March 2010 and March 2011. Doppler velocimetry ultrasonography was used to detect the presence of venous changes in the subclavian and axillary veins. Lymphatic changes were evaluated by lymphoscintigraphy in both upper limbs. Fisher's exact test was used for the comparison between limbs.


Subclavian vein flow volume in the upper limb with lymphedema was significantly different from that in the contralateral limb (p<0.001), 54.6% of the women had increased flow. In the axillary vein, 45.4% had increased flow and 45.4% had decreased flow, with a statistically significant difference (p<0.01) between limbs. Compared to the contralateral limb, significant lymphatic changes (p<0.05) were also found in the vessel route (not visualized), number of lymphatic vessels (none), axillary lymph nodes (absent) and dermal reflux (present). In the contralateral upper limb without lymphedema, no venous or lymphatic alterations were encountered.


The women subjected to axillary lymphadenectomy for the treatment of breast cancer presented both venous and lymphatic changes in the upper limb with lymphedema.

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