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Volume 10 Supplement 1

de Senectute: Age and Health Forum

Lymphatic deseases: geriatrical epidemiological data: the role of rehabilitation

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In 1994 the WHO showed about 140 millions cases of lymphedema (Table 1).

Table 1 Statistics WHO 1994

Italian epidemiological studies report that primary lymphedema are more frequent than secondary. The localization of upper limbs recognizes secondary lymphedema; the primary ones can be located in lower limbs. 30-40 y.o. women are more exposed.

In geriatric patients lymphedema is generally secondary and concerned with upper limbs (Mastectomy). In lower limbs it follows cervix carcinoma treatments (46%), urologic diseases (39%), melanoma treatments (6%), Hodgkin lymphoma (3%), venous failures etc.

In geriatric patients lymphedema disabilities make previous pathologies worse and rehabilitative therapies are recommended.

Materials and methods

In UO Medicina Riabilitativa, Ospedali Riuniti Ancona, Lymphedema is treated throught a Rehabilitative Project performed by a Team.

The treatments are concerned with patient’s impairments and disabilities, according to ICF.


In 2008, 83 new patients have been examined. 10 males and 73 females. Mean age 57,7 y.o.

25 Lymphedema in over 65 y.o. patients: 24 secondary and 1 primary. The secondary were: 44 post-mastectomy; 21 post surgical operation on pelvis or lower limbs; 8 after CVD; 1 post-radiotherapy; 1 post erysipelas. Tables 2, 3 and 4

Table 2 Statistics
Table 3 Table 3
Table 4 Table 4


This statistics show that in geriatric patients lymphatic system pathologies are often related both to CVD and to surgery (pelvis operations) with inguinal, iliac and lumbar aortic nodes removal.


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    Michelini S, et al: Epidemiologia del linfedema. Auxilia-Linfologia. 1998

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    Gasbarro V, Michelini S, Antignani PL, Tsolaki E, Ricci M, Allegra C: The CEAP-L classification for lymphedemas of the limbs: the Italian experience. Internationale Angiology. 2009, 28 (24): 315-324.

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    Ricci M: Proposal of Disability Scale for Lymphoedema. Eur J Lymphol. 2008, XIX (55):

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    World Health Organization: International Classification of Functionng, Disability and Health. WHO. 2001

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Author information

Correspondence to M Ricci.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Ricci, M., Sandroni, L. Lymphatic deseases: geriatrical epidemiological data: the role of rehabilitation. BMC Geriatr 10, A113 (2010) doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-S1-A113

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  • Melanoma
  • Lymphedema
  • Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Geriatric Patient
  • Pelvis Operation