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Design of an Auxiliary Artificial Lymphatic Vessel in Treatment of Secondary Lymphedema Due to Breast Cancer

2021 , Durán-Aguilar, Gabriela , Alberto Rossa-Sierra , Rita Q. Fuentes-Aguilar

Breast cancer is the most common malignant tumor that affects women in the United States, Europe, and Mexico. As an adverse effect when performing treatments for this condition, secondary lymphedema associated with breast cancer occurs in some cases. This complication occurs due to the interruption of lymphatic flow in the upper extremities in conjunction with other factors such as radiation, sedentary lifestyle, removal of lymph nodes, damage to lymphatic vessels, and others. This article reviews breast cancer incidence, mortality, and survival patterns, confirming that, specifically, lymphedema has high health, social, and economic impacts. Research demonstrates that it fundamentally affects women at an early age. In approximately a third of the cases, it becomes a chronic disease. Therefore, physical therapy is essential for a better quality of life in patients who survive this disease. Surgeries and manual and pharmacological treatments are the current procedures done to reduce to reduce the alterations suffered by patients with lymphedema; however, the success of the treatments depends on each patient’s characteristics. To face this problem, the design of a lymphatic vessel has been proposed to assist the mechanical failure of the damaged lymphatic system. In this work, the design methodology used for the blueprint of the lymphatic vessel is presented, as well as the computer analysis of fluid simulation and the selection of the proposed material, resulting in the production of a micrometric design. In the future, it is expected that a surgeon will be able to implant the design of the vessel to restore lymph flow through the lymphatic system, thus helping to combat lymphedema.