Tag Archives: Japan

Surgery – New Hope for Lymphedema Patients

Lymphedema patients have a new surgery option for arm and leg swelling – would it be available to seniors?

How much is the cost of it compared to the standard treatment that doesn’t work all that well?

Who is a good candidate for the surgery?


“LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is the first in Arkansas and one of a handful of medical centers in the country offering a new surgical alternative to treat lymphedema, the chronic arm swelling frequently associated with breast cancer treatment.


The unique microvascular procedure at UAMS is performed by Mauricio Moreno, M.D., who learned the new surgery during his advanced training in microvascular reconstructive surgery prior to joining UAMS in 2009.


The surgery is the only permanent, effective treatment for lymphedema, which is caused by damaged lymph nodes that can no longer cycle excess fluid out of the arms and legs. In the United States the condition usually is a side effect of mastectomy or radiation therapy that compromises the lymphatic system. The result is swelling, numbness, discomfort and a high risk of infection.


Valerie Davis, of Smackover, the first lymphedema patient to have the surgery at UAMS, said the swelling from her mastectomy four years ago was disabling because it restricted the use of her left arm.


“The swelling was outrageous, even when I wore the compression sleeve,” Davis said. “It was really aggravating; I couldn’t lift things like I wanted to.”


Patients with lymphedema commonly see about a 20-40 percent reduction in swelling using massage and compression therapy, the traditional treatment for lymphedema. Such therapy involves extensive massaging to push the fluid from the extremities back to the torso. It is a temporary solution that has to be performed regularly because lymphedema does not improve over time – it only gets worse.


Davis said she tried the traditional treatments, which helped some but were a big inconvenience. When she heard about the new procedure, Davis said, she couldn’t pass up the chance it would bring relief.


Dr. Moreno told me it had a 70 percent chance of working, so I took the 70 percent,” she said, adding that she’s happy she took those odds.


Davis saw an 81-percent reduction in her arm swelling within a month from the procedure.


“It was worth it,” she said. “I’m doing so much better now, and Dr. Moreno said the swelling would likely continue to go down.”


Lymphedema surgery involves connecting tiny lymphatic vessels to tiny blood vessels (less than 1 millimeter), giving the excess fluid a new pathway out of the arms or legs. The surgery was developed in Japan in 2003, and Moreno learned it from a surgeon who brought it to the United States from Japan.


Because the surgery is so new in the United States, its cost is not covered by insurance, Moreno said….”


Thanks for reading… Sharon O’Hara

Dear Harrison Medical Center Respiratory Department

Dear Harrison Medical Center Respiratory Department,

I was late.  The reasons I was late don’t matter.

The clock on the back wall read 2:40 pm.  The brightly lit room was empty.  I peered around the corner where the coffee and ice water were served – the ice water container was full but no one was there.  A passer-by told me folks were there earlier.

I waited in the doorway 5 minutes until it was clear no one was coming back before beginning the long walk back down the hall from the Rose Room at Harrison Silverdale and out to the gas guzzler.

I have no complaints…I have questions.  In the light of the present day horrific life and death earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, my comments and questions may seem frivolous.

20 minutes is a lot of time.  Japan’s record 9. 0 Earthquake reduced buildings into rubble in less than 20 minutes.

The tsunami that followed scooped up and destroyed miles of buildings, homes, cars and people within 20 minutes.

A doctor can see two or more patients in 20 minutes.

What could I have learned in 20 minutes had anyone been there to teach me?

The Better Breather’s meeting was scheduled for 1:00 – 3:00 pm and no one was there.  I understand RT’s respiratory time is valuable and they’re needed but I didn’t see any COPD patients there either.

Why wasn’t the meeting advertised in the Kitsap Sun?  Harrison’s MS support group meeting was advertised that same day.

1.      Kitsap County has how many  pulmonary docs?

2.      Capri is a cardiopulmonary rehab group – do they recommend Harrison’s Better Breather’s pulmonary support for their rehab folks?

3.      What is the problem?

Are Kitsap lung patients uninterested in further education in living with lung disease?  Do they already know all there is to know about lung disease?  Or, are they being ignored by the very medical community treating them?

If a support group is advertised to be available during certain hours, they should not leave early.  In the years I had a business we advertised being open until 9:00 pm and someone was always there until closing.  People knew they could count on those open hours for business.

If pulmonary patients aren’t interested in support group learning and education, there is no point in wasting valuable respiratory employee time from Harrison in meetings no one shows up for.

If the problem is getting the word out then do it!

The Old Guy and I will hand deliver flyers promoting the next Better Breather’s meeting to every heart and respiratory doctor’s office in Kitsap County – if that’s what it takes.  I will even print them out if you send me the file in something other than a dat. file.

In turn, stay open and available for the hours you state you will be there.  Regular business folks do.

I could have learned a lot in that 20 minutes no one was there.  Maybe I did.

I just learned that according to the Yellow Pages in the Kitsap Peninsula “dexknows.com”- the – to July 2011 edition- has only one M.D. is listed under “Lung (Pulmonary)” –page 417.

Doctors Clinic – Kittredge A. Baldwin, D.O. and Benjamin Sy, M.D. on Wheaton Way, Bremerton are the only pulmonary doctor’s listed – why aren’t the doctor’s off Campbell Way listed?  Did they change their specialty?

More later… Sharon O’Hara