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Secondary Lymphedema: Its Characteristics and Diagnostic Implications.

Richard D. Smith, M.D.; Alexander Schirger, M.D.; and John A. Spittell Jr., M.D., F.A.C.P.
Ann Intern Med. 1964;60(2_Part_1):334. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-60-2-334_1
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The differential diagnosis between idiopathic (primary) lymphedema and secondary lymphedema of the lower extremity is of more than academic importance, for the latter may be a manifestation of a serious underlying disease.

It has been found that idiopathic lymphedema of the legs affects women 10 times more frequently than men, most often begins before the age of 39 years, and is bilateral in about 50% of cases. It is complicated by lymphangitis in only 25% of cases.

A study of 80 cases of secondary lymphedema was undertaken to determine the clinical characteristics that have value in differentiating secondary from primary


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