Primary Lymphoedema

What is Lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is the chronic swelling, typically of an arm or leg, due to the collection of excess fluid (lymph) in tissues. The damage, blockage or malfunctioning of the lymphatic system prevents the draining of the lymph fluid generating the swelling. This is categorised as primary or secondary.

What is Primary Lymphoedema?

When there is no apparent or obvious cause, the lymphoedema is generally categorised as 'primary'. Primary lymphoedema affects one every six thousand people, mostly women. Primary lymphoedema is further categorised based on the age of occurrence in congenital, praecox and tarda.

Congenital Lymphoedema

It's a type of lymphoedema present at or shortly after birth. It accounts for 5-10% of all the cases of primary lymphoedema. Women are affected twice as often as men, while in 2% of the cases the cases are hereditary. The swelling mostly occurs in the legs, although limbs and face are also affected in some cases.

Praecox Lymphoedema

It's the most common form of primary lymphoedema representing 75-80% of the cases. It manifests itself in adolescence, with women being affected four times as often as men. The swelling is usually limited to one leg, generally foot, calf, and ankle.

Tarda Lymphoedema

This type of primary lymphoedema is similar to the Praecox one. The difference being  it affects people from 35 years of age onwards and it accounts for 10% of all the primary lymphoedema cases.