Photoacoustic lymphangiography is a possible alternative for lymphedema staging

Shiho Watanabe, Hiroki Kajita, Yushi Suzuki, Moemi Urano, Marika Otaki, Hisashi Sakuma, Nobuaki Imanishi, Tetsuya Tsuji, Masahiro Jinzaki, Kazuo Kishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Photoacoustic imaging is a new technique that uses the photoacoustic effect. In photoacoustic lymphangiography (PAL), images of the lymphatic vessels can be visualized using light-absorbing contrast agents. In the present study, we investigated the efficacy of PAL for lymphedema staging. Methods: We performed PAL of the lower extremities and examined the clinical implications of using PAL for staging lymphedema by comparing the PAL images with those obtained using lymphoscintigraphy. Of 47 patients with lymphedema who had been outpatients or hospitalized at our institution between May 2018 and September 2020 and had undergone PAL, 15 with 18 limbs who had also undergone lymphoscintigraphy were included in the present study. The lymphoscintigraphy findings were classified using the Maegawa classification. We also investigated whether PAL could clearly visualize the lymphatic vessels and concisely reflect the disease state by counting the number of lymphatic vessels observed using PAL. Results: The PAL findings were categorized into three groups: collecting lymphatic vessels, dermal backflow (DBF), and no lymphatic vessels. The collecting lymphatic vessels group corresponded to types 2 and 3 in the Maegawa classification; DBF corresponded to types 3 and 4, and the no lymphatic vessels group corresponded to type 4. The number of lymphatic vessels visualized using PAL was similar to that with lymphoscintigraphy. As the disease progressed, the number of lymphatic vessels observed decreased, increased DBF was detected, and, eventually, the lymphatic vessels were not visible, corresponding to the general changes observed via lymphoscintigraphy with stage progression. Conclusions: The findings from PAL and lymphoscintigraphy tended to correspond, suggesting that PAL could be useful for lymphedema staging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1318-1324.e2
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov


  • Blood vessels
  • Dermal backflow
  • Lymphatic vessels
  • Lymphoscintigraphy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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