What are possible complications of inguinal lymph node dissection?

The rate of complications following inguinal lymph node surgery can be quite high, with a direct correlation between the number and depth of the lymph nodes removed, and the occurrence of complications. The most common complications are:

  • Infection at the site of the incision, an early complication and the one seen most often. A risk factor for developing infection is obesity. Signs of infection include pain, redness, pus, discharges or fever.
  • Swelling (seroma) at the site of the incision due to fluid buildup.
  • Swelling (lymphedema) of the lower legs, usually as a long-term complication.
  • Deep vein blood clots.
  • Poor wound-healing.
  • Tissue death.

Studies are being done to reduce the number of surgical complications, which mainly are the result of bleeding and fluid accumulation due to damage done to blood and lymph vessels at or near the surgical site. Efforts at improvement include identifying nodal disease as soon as possible so that treatment can begin before extensive surgery is needed; changes in surgical technique; increased efforts at preserving as much tissue as possible, and a move toward less invasive surgery.

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