If you're at risk of lymphedema — for instance, if you've recently had cancer surgery involving your lymph nodes — your doctor may diagnose lymphedema based on your signs and symptoms.
If the cause of your lymphedema isn't as obvious, your doctor may order imaging tests to get a look at your lymph system. Tests may include:
Oct. 23, 2014
- MRI scan. Using a magnetic field and radio waves, an MRI produces 3-D, high-resolution images.
- CT scan. This X-ray technique produces detailed, cross-sectional images of your body's structures. CT scans can reveal blockages in the lymphatic system.
- Doppler ultrasound. This variation of the conventional ultrasound looks at blood flow and pressure by bouncing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off red blood cells. Ultrasound can help find obstructions.
- Radionuclide imaging of your lymphatic system (lymphoscintigraphy). During this test you're injected with a radioactive dye and then scanned by a machine. The resulting images show the dye moving through your lymph vessels, highlighting blockages.
- Lymphedema. Society for Vascular Surgeons. http://www.vascularweb.org/vascularhealth/Pages/lymphedema.aspx?PF=1. Accessed Sept. 17, 2014.
- Lymphedema (PDQ): Health professional version. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/lymphedema/healthprofessional/AllPages/Print. Accessed Sept. 16, 2014.
- Mohler ER, et al. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of lymphedema. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 16, 2014.
- Chiu TW. Management of secondary lymphoedema. Hong Kong Medical Journals. 2014;20:1.
- Lymphedema (PDQ): Patient version. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/lymphedema/Patient/page1. Accessed Sept. 16, 2014.