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Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNTx)


Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNTx) is a surgical procedure that is performed with the goal of accomplishing the following functional improvements: 

  • To decrease the size of the swollen limb.
  • To relieve symptoms such as feelings of "heaviness", "achiness," and "fatigue."
  • To reduce the daily requirements for compression.
  • To slow the increase of the problems associated with lymphedema.


VLNTx is a microsurgical procedure in which healthy lymph nodes are transferred from a low-risk lymph node basin (such as in the groin) into a limb that is severely affected with lymphedema. Most commonly the recipient area is in the feet.

During this procedure a lymph node with its attached artery,  vein, and fatty tissue is transferred to either the axilla (arm pit) or the groin (abdomen).

  • This procedure should be performed only be a surgeon with extensive successful experience in performing it.


  • The recipient area is prepared by removing any scar tissue. 
  • Blood flow is re-established to the lymph node flap by reattaching the blood vessels of the flap to the blood vessels found in the recipient site. 
  • Magnification for this procedure is provided by an operating room microscope.
  • Patients with leg lymphedema may require VLNTxs at the levels of the knee and groin.
  • Patients with arm lymphedema are commonly treated only with one transfer at the level of the axilla (arm pit).
  • Patients with profound soft tissue deformities may require extensive removal of excess skin.
  • Liposuction of the extremity is used to complete the site preparation.


Post-operatively care may be necessary for several months; however, improvement in soft tissue swelling may be seen sooner in many patients.

This improvement, which varies from one patient to another, usually consists of a decreases in:

  • Limb circumference,
  • Pain, and
  • The frequency of soft tissue infections.

An experienced surgical team is essential.

@ Copyright Lymph Notes 2014. This information does not replace the opinion of a knowledgeable physician.

Got a question or comment? Post in the 'How Lymphedema is Treated' forum.
Category: How Lymphedema is Treated Updated: 2014-10-16


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