Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital has announced the launch of its new lymphedema therapy program. Lymphedema is an accumulation of fluids and protein in tissue and is very common in breast cancer patients after cancer removal surgery. The new therapy is for patients whose lymphedema is the result of cancer treatment, surgery, wounds or trauma. 

Highlights of the new program include the expertise of a certified lymphedema therapist and the SOZO unit…a tool for early detection that allows for surgery patients who need lymphedema therapy to begin receiving it sooner. The SOZO unit is housed in Lourdes’ breast surgery department and features advanced technology to aid in the assessment of secondary lymphedema and to deliver a precise snapshot of fluid status and tissue composition in less than 30 seconds. A single SOZO reading allows clinicians across multiple specialties to provide individualized, proactive care that can improve patient outcomes.

“Individuals who have been treated for cancer are at risk for lymphedema,” said Mercy Health general surgeon Dr. Daniel Howard. “Lymphedema can cause swelling in the body region where lymph nodes were removed, which can cause pain and limited function.” 

Lymphedema can develop within weeks, or it may be years before symptoms first appear. Often symptoms present during cancer treatment and can include feeling as though clothes or jewelry are too tight, a feeling of fullness in arms or legs, and less flexibility in the wrists, hands and ankles. 

Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital’s new lymphedema therapy program provides not only detection but treatment. The program’s lymphedema experts work to get the fluid flowing properly through the lymph system. Treatment includes massaging swollen areas to redirect fluids and utilizing compression wraps to keep the fluid out of the area and reduce stagnant fluid builds up. 

Many lymphedema patients require compression garments that sometimes must be worn for the remainder of their lives to maintain their improvement in fluid loss. These garments often are not covered by a patient’s insurance and can be expensive. Patients in Lourdes’ program will receive the garments thanks to a generous $10,000 grant from the Mercy Health Foundation Lourdes.

Patients experiencing symptoms can talk with a physician regarding a referral. For more information concerning Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital’s new lymphedema therapy program call 270-444-2850.