Excellent network for diseases of the lymphatic system

Published on November 10, 2022

The diagnosis and therapy of lymphatic disorders require close multidisciplinary cooperation. The University Hospital Zurich is now acclaimed as the first Center of Excellence of the Lymphatic Education & Research Network in Switzerland and in German-speaking countries. Patients benefit from a comprehensive range of available services.

Evaluation and treatment of diseases of the lymphatic system require multidisciplinary expertise in the vast majority of cases. Specialists in plastic and reconstructive surgery, angiology, physiotherapy, diagnostic and interventional radiology, visceral surgery, dermatology, nuclear medicine, thoracic surgery, gynecology and medical genetics have been working together to this end for several years at the University Hospital Zurich. “This long list highlights the usefulness of multispecialty collaboration and teamwork for patients with lymphatic diseases,” says Nicole Lindenblatt, a specialist in plastic surgery and microsurgery at the USZ. “Our network, therefore, also includes our colleagues from the University Children’s Hospital Zurich and established researchers on lymphedema and lipedema at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich.”

This close and well-established teamwork has now also been formally recognized, with the USZ being acclaimed as the first Center of Excellence in Switzerland and German-speaking regions by the prestigious international Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN). Nicole Lindenblatt summarized the requirements of LE&RN and the services of the Center, stating that “certification as a Center of Excellence includes all diagnostic and therapeutic modalities of lymphatic diseases and guarantees the best interdisciplinary treatment.”

“This implies that patients benefit from the expertise and extensive services within the network in terms of diagnosis and treatment of complex clinical conditions,” said Nicole Lindenblatt, director of the Center of Excellence and angiologist Alexandru Grigorean, co-director. The USZ thus offers an interdisciplinary clinic for lymphatic diseases, involving the departments of angiology, plastic surgery and physiotherapy.

The close interdepartmental collaboration enabled the first lymphatic surgery in Switzerland in 2015 and the first lymph node transfer in a child in Switzerland in 2021. This operation was performed by a team led by Nicole Lindenblatt, visceral surgeon Christian Gutschow and pediatric surgeon Ueli Möhrlen at the University Hospital Zurich; the child underwent further post-operative treatment at the Zurich Children’s Hospital.

Both hospitals are also actively involved in research. Their current work includes a joint research project on microsurgical therapy and molecular profiling of primary lymphedema in children, sponsored by the Palatin Foundation and the Hermann Klaus Foundation.