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Objective: This study aimed to comprehensively assess radionuclide imaging findings to aid in the clinical diagnosis of early-stage lower extremity lymphedema.
Methods: Our retrospective study included 135 patients who underwent lymphoscintigraphy for bilateral lower extremity edema (BLEE) between 2017 and 2022. Of these patients, 117 (86.7%) were female. Lymphoscintigraphic images were acquired at the 10th, 40th, and 2nd hours post-injection of radiopharmaceuticals. Bilateral lower extremity lymphatic congestion (MLC) was observed in the 2nd-hour images of radionuclide imaging (RI), with an associated accumulation of activity in the inguinal lymph nodes. All patients presented with lower extremity edema.
Results: Among our patients, 55 (40.7%) were classified as obese. Bilateral distal collateral flows (BDCF) were identified in 60 (44.4%) of our patients, all of whom were female. Within this group, 13 (21.7%) were obese, and 11 (18.3%) exhibited distal and direct muscle lymphatic congestion (DDMLC). DDMLC was present in 63 (46.7%) patients. Unilateral distal collateral flow (UDCF) was detected in 75 (55.6%) of the patients with BLEE, with 67 (89.3%) of them being obese. Obese patients exhibited a significantly higher prevalence of both UDCF and DDMLC (p: 0.0005). Detailed results can be found in Table 1-4 and Figures 3 and 4.
Conclusion: Functional bilateral radionuclide imaging methods provide valuable data for physicians, enabling bilateral and comparative assessments. However, particular attention should be paid to the interpretation of asymmetric images, especially in specific patient groups.
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