Intended for healthcare professionals


Lymphoedema is oedema resulting from reduced lymphatic drainage. In most cases, this results when capillary filtration pressure exceeds lymphatic drainage for a sufficient period of time. Fluid filtration into any tissue results from disturbances to Starling forces across the blood vessel (mainly capillary) wall. Increased pressure (usually venous), reduced plasma proteins or increased vascular permeability (from inflammation) will result in increased movement of fluid from blood to tissues (interstitial space). Unless the lymph drainage increases accordingly, then oedema will result. Therefore any oedema, whatever the cause, is due to an imbalance between capillary filtration and lymph drainage.
Dermatology in practice 2002; 10(5): 6–8
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