The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) provides a comprehensive lymphoedema service for all forms of chronic oedema. This includes a specialist treatment service for children and teenagers with lymphoedema.
All patients are assessed, a treatment plan agreed and compression garments provided. A summary of the assessment and planned lymphoedema treatment will be sent to the referring doctor and to the patient’s GP. Patients will be referred back to the referring doctor if there is a perceived need for a further medical opinion in relation to the patient’s medical condition. This may take place at any time during treatment.
Lymphoedema and its treatment
Lymphoedema is a chronic swelling caused by a failure in lymph drainage. This may occur due to an intrinsic insufficiency of the lymphatics (primary lymphoedema) or secondary to another cause such as cancer or its treatment, limb dependency or chronic venous insufficiency (secondary lymphoedema).
The service aims to enable the person with lymphoedema to become independent in the self management of their condition. A combination of physical therapies is used to minimise and control the swelling. This involves compression garments, massage and exercise. Rigorous skin care is recommended to maintain skin integrity and minimise cellulitis. Education and the provision of information play a key part in the treatment process. Group exercise sessions incorporating T’ai Chi exercises are available.
In cases of severe swelling and midline oedema, patients are treated with a course of intensive treatment including daily bandaging and massage (manual lymphatic drainage).