Breast cancer repair innovation offered by King Edward VII unit

Independent charitable hospital King Edward VII’s is incorporating two new innovations to combat some damaging long-term side effects of breast cancer surgeries.

The SPY-PHI portable fluorescence imaging system

The lymphatic microsurgical healing approach (LYMPHA) reduces the risk of secondary breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL). 

It redirects waste products from the lymphatic system into the veins, enabling waste products to flow away and reducing the risk of lymphedema. 

LYMPHA uses a combination of a paramagnetic tracer and fluorescent imaging (Endomagnetics and Stryker) to identify the extremely small lymphatics (<1mm) draining from the arm, and guide the surgical team at the time of operating.

Consultant breast and recon­structive surgeon Mr Paul Thiruchelvam leads the team and works very closely with his colleagues, consultant plastic and microsurgical surgeons Mr Navid Jallali and Miss Judith Hunter, to do the complex procedure.

The technique has been introduced alongside deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap reconstruction, a complex type of microsurgical breast reconstructive surgery. 

Miss Hunter said: ‘Lymph­oedema can be very debilitating and has traditionally been a challenge to treat. 

‘Recently there has been renewed interest in microsurgical approaches to address this condition, but as with anything, prevention has turned out to be better than cure. 

‘Paul, Navid and I had the privilege to travel to Genoa a few years ago to learn from the pioneer of the LYMPHA technique and have been delighted with our early results back in London. 

‘If a patient is having a lymph node dissection along with a mastectomy, and we are already there with the skills and equipment to perform an immediate breast reconstruction, it makes sense to offer them the LYMPHA procedure too’.

Mr Thiruchelvam said: ‘It is incredibly rewarding to be able to work so closely with my outstanding microsurgical colleagues to reduce women’s risk of suffering from this long-term condition.’