Describe the events and tests that led to a diagnosis of lymphedema.
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How is lymphedema diagnosed?
A thorough medical history and physical examination are done to rule out other causes of limb swelling, such as edema due to congestive heart failure, kidney failure, blood clots, or other conditions. Often, the medical history of surgery or other conditions involving the lymph nodes will point to the cause and establish the diagnosis of lymphedema.
If the cause of swelling is not clear, other tests may be carried out to help determine the cause of limb swelling.
CT or MRI scans may be useful to help define lymph node architecture or to identify tumors or other abnormalities.
Lymphoscintigraphy is a test that involves injecting a tracer dye into lymph vessels and then observing the flow of fluid using imaging technologies. It can illustrate blockages in lymph flow.
Doppler ultrasound scans are sound wave tests used to evaluate blood flow, and can help identify a blood clot in the veins (deep venous thrombosis) that may be a cause of limb swelling.