I am very pleased to be here today. A couple of housekeeping items that I want to introduce before starting the actual content of the session. First, I just wanted to mention that there are many different backgrounds and experience levels on this call. I have tried to be very thorough when presenting the information today, so I apologize if I repeat a basic concept. I want to make sure that everyone on the webinar today has working baseline knowledge of the information. Also, there is no way that I can adequately cover wound care or lymphedema management in a two hour period. Both of these topics are really large, thus my intent today is to introduce you to the concept of wound care for clients living with lymphedema. If you are interested in this topic, I would encourage you to pursue more education, maybe even certification in wound care and lymphedema.
Background and Physiology of the Lymphatic System
Let's start with the background in the physiology of the lymphatic system. While we cannot spend hours and hours on this topic to have true mastery of the lymphatic system, we are going to take a look at a global level.
What is the Role of the Lymphatic System?
- A drainage system
- Brings substances from the tissues back to the circulatory system
The lymphatic system functions as a drainage system in the body. I like to think of it more as an irrigation system (Figure 1).
Figure 1. The lymphatic system (NIH/Public domain).
I am going to explain this analogy in just a few slides.
This quote is by Casley Smith, a very well known clinician in the lymphedema arena. She says that "lymphedema is the accumulation of excessive lymph fluid and swelling of subcutaneous tissues due to obstruction, destruction, or hypoplasia of lymph vessels."
Lymphatic System Anatomy
- Initial lymph capillaries
- Perforating pre-collectors
- Lymph nodes