Gives new lease on life to woman with Lymphedema

FALLS CHURCH, VA – (January 24, 2013) – The Inova Breast Care Institute performed the first lymph node transplant in the region. This groundbreaking procedure was performed by Drs. Alex Mesbahi and Mark Venturi at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Alexandria resident Viola Karbo was the first recipient of this procedure. Karbo, a breast cancer survivor, has been struggling with lymphedema since 2011. Lymphedema is painful swelling that can occur in the arms and is most commonly caused by the removal of the lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment.

There is a 15-20% chance of developing lymphedema after an axillary lymph node dissection as the cancerous lymph nodes in the underarm and associated lymphatic channels are removed.  The result is disruption of the normal drainage of fluid causing significant arm swelling which may be both unsightly and uncomfortable.

During the seven hour transplant, Mesbahi and Venturi took Karbo’s healthy lymph nodes and transplanted them to the affected underarm. “Recent technology has given rise to this surgery where we take healthy lymphatic tissue from one part of the body and literally transplant it to where it’s missing in an effort to recreate the lymphatic channels and alleviate the lymphedema,” said Mesbahi.

Karbo expressed her gratitude in towards Inova and her physicians: “to finally get some relief,  I am overjoyed. As a cancer survivor, you feel blessed, but when a result is a condition with no cure, that is hard. Dr. Mesbahi has taken a chance on me and my recovery and gave me another option, and I am so thankful.”

“This is a new surgery, but the initial outcomes of the procedure look good. The ultimate measure of success will be in a better quality of life for [Karbo], said Dr. Mesbahi.

To learn more about Viola Karbo and this groundbreaking procedure please contact Allison Kenty at 703-504-3840 or Allison.kenty@inova.org.  Exclusive footage available.

About Inova
Inova is a not-for-profit health care system located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, serving over two million people with over 1,700 licensed beds based in Northern Virginia.  Inova consists of five hospitals including the area’s only Level 1 Trauma Center and Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care unit.  Inova encompasses many health services including the nationally and internationally recognized Inova Heart and Vascular Institute (IHVI), Inova Translational Medicine Institute (ITMI) on genomics, Inova Neuroscience Institute and Inova Children’s Hospital.  Inova’s mission is to improve the health of the diverse community it serves through excellence in patient care, education and research.  More information and statistics about Inova is at www.inova.org.
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