Welcome to the WI Lymphedema Institute


The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, College of Health Sciences and Conference Committee invite you to the 2017 Wisconsin Lymphedema Institute: Impact of Comorbidities. The Institute’s mission is to provide information on the latest advances in diagnoses, treatments, and innovations for the chronic condition of lymphedema. The Institute provides evidence based state-of-the-art scientific sessions and workshops on current issues that face therapists, physicians, caregivers, and patients. These interdisciplinary sessions and workshops will focus on the latest lymphedema treatments and management options available.

Who do we reach?

This intermediate to advanced program is intended for therapists, physicians, nurses, and scientists interested in lymphology. While this is an evidence based, intermediate to advanced program, medical professionals with and without knowledge of the lymphatic system are invited to participate and expand their practice to include this under-recognized condition.

What is lymphedema?lymphedema_module_

Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of high-protein fluid just beneath the skin. This swelling, or edema, occurs most commonly in the arm or leg, but it also may occur in other parts of the body including the breast or trunk, head and neck, or genitals. Lymphedema usually develops when lymph vessels are damaged or lymph nodes are removed (secondary lymphedema) but can also be present when lymphatic vessels are missing or impaired due to a hereditary condition (primary lymphedema).

Lymphatic fluid is normally transported out of a region of the body by an extensive network of lymph vessels. When the collection of protein-rich fluid persists in a specific area, it can attract more fluid and thus worsen the swelling. In addition to increased fluid in the area, the body experiences an inflammatory reaction resulting in scar tissue called fibrosis in the affected area. The presence of fibrosis makes it even more difficult for the excess fluid to be eliminated from the area. As a result, the increased fluid and fibrosis prevents the delivery of oxygen and essential nutrients to the area, which in turn can delay wound healing, provide a culture medium for bacteria to grow, and increase the risk of infections in or below the skin called cellulitis or lymphangitis.

Lymphedema should not be confused with other types of edema resulting from venous insufficiency (leaky or obstructed veins), cardiac conditions like heart failure or sleep apnea, kidney failure, or other inflammatory processes. These conditions are not lymphedema and are generally treated differently.