Preservation of the saphenous vein during inguinal lymphadenectomy decreases morbidity in patients with carcinoma of the vulva

Sunny H. Zhang, Anil K. Sood, Joel I. Sorosky, Barrie Anderson, Richard E. Buller

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105 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Traditional inguinal lymphadenectomy includes the removal of a portion of the saphenous vein. The authors hypothesized that preserving the saphenous vein would decrease morbidity without affecting treatment outcome. METHODS. A retrospective review of 83 patients with carcinoma of the vulva who underwent inguinal lymphadenectomy between 1990-1998 was performed. Postoperative short term and long term complications were evaluated. RESULTS. A total of 139 inguinal dissections were performed in 83 patients. The saphenous vein was preserved in 62 patients and ligated in 77 patients. The clinical characteristics of the patients, the operating time, and the estimated blood loss were not significantly different between the two groups. The incidence rate of short term complications including fever, seroma, phlebitis, lymphocyst, and deep venous thrombosis also was similar. Cellulitis occurred in 39% of the patients who underwent vein ligation compared with 18% of the patients who underwent a vein-sparing procedure (P = 0.006). Short term (< 6 months) lower extremity lymphedema occurred in 70% of the vein-ligated group compared with 32% of the vein-spared group (P < 0.001). Chronic edema (≥ 2 years) was present in only 3% of the patients who underwent saphenous vein preservation compared with 32% of those who underwent vein ligation (P = 0.003). Chronic lymphedema in the vein-spared group was observed in only one patient who received postoperative radiation. Overall, individuals with preservation of the saphenous vein were less likely to develop complications (56% vs. 23%; P < 0.001). There was no difference in the rate of incidence of recurrent disease between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS. Preservation of the saphenous vein during inguinal lymphadenectomy reduces both the short term and long term postoperative complications without affecting treatment outcome. The saphenous vein should be preserved routinely in patients undergoing inguinal lymphadenectomy. (C) 2000 American Cancer Society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1520-1525
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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