Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Lymphedema is swelling in one or more
extremities that results from impaired flow of the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is a network of specialized vessels (lymph vessels)
throughout the body whose purpose is to collect excess lymph fluid with
proteins, lipids, and waste products from the tissues. This fluid is then
carried to the lymph nodes, which filter waste products and contain
infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes. The excess fluid in the lymph
vessels is eventually returned to the bloodstream. When the
lymph vessels are
blocked or unable to carry lymph fluid away from the tissues, localized swelling
(lymphedema) is the result.
Lymphedema most often affects a single arm or leg, but in uncommon situations
both limbs are affected.
Primary lymphedema is the result of an anatomical abnormality of
the lymph vessels and is a rare, inherited condition.
results from an identifiable damage to or obstruction of normally-functioning
lymph vessels and nodes.
Worldwide, lymphedema is most commonly caused by
filariasis (a parasite infection), but in the U.S., lymphedema most commonly
occurs in women who have had breast cancer surgery, particularly when followed
by radiation treatment.
It has been estimated that worldwide, there are 140 to 250 million people
affected by lymphedema.
Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on 9/20/2012