The volume of postoperative drainage fluid as a potential early predictor of lymphedema after lymph node excision for metastatic melanoma
Lymphedema (LE) following lymph node dissection is a major problem for cancer patients, and radiation therapy, extended surgery, groin dissection, obesity, and older age are well-established risk factors of LE. We studied whether these risk factors are further associated with high volumes of postoperative drainage fluid after complete lymph node dissection (CLND) for melanoma metastases. Moreover, we examined whether a high amount of drainage fluid after sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) can
... iopsy (SLNB) can predict a high amount of drainage fluid after subsequent CLND. Using descriptive statistics and regression analyses, we analyzed the cumulative volumes of postoperative drainage fluid for 836 melanoma patients with lymph node excision in the axilla or groin. In multiple regression analyses, the well-established risk factors of LE, i.e., increased body mass index, older age, and ilioinguinal versus inguinal versus axillary dissection predicted a high drainage volume after CLND. Of note, a high drainage fluid volume after SLNB also predicted a high drainage volume after subsequent CLND. In patients with groin dissections, who are particularly susceptible to swelling, extended iliac dissection, age above 60, and a cumulative drainage volume of more than 100 ml in the preceding SLNB were predictors of the cumulative drainage volume. We find that common risk factors predict the volume of postoperative drainage fluid after CLND and postoperative LE. Further, high postoperative drainage volume may therefore function as a potential early predictor of LE following CLND.