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Uncovering the mysteries of lymph

Unique in Switzerland, CHUV’s lymphatic vessel imaging technique is improving treatments for lymphoedema.

Lymphoedema is swelling caused by impaired flow in the lymphatic system. As there is no cure, the condition is treated by reducing the swelling and slowing its progression through lymph drainage  and compression bandages. But these techniques can be limiting for patients. CHUV disposes of a unique imaging technology that can "see" lymphatic vessels, but goes even further to target care with the LymphoDrain project. Developed by two engineers from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) at CHUV’s Heart and Vessel Department, the system is made up of three parts, as explained by the department chair, Lucia Mazzolai:

"Subcutaneous catheters act as ducts to carry lymph to functional lymph nodes using a micro-pump to exert adequate pressure. The whole process is controlled and monitored by an outer device that can be worn while carrying out day-to-day activities."

This artificial vessel, now the focus of the start-up Lymphatica, will launch its first clinical study in 2020 with about 20 patients. On top of improving treatment, the project brings hope to enhance the lives of tens of millions of people worldwide with lymphoedema. 

Source: In Vivo special edition (2019) / Photo: DR 

Project Ambassador (CHUV)

Prof Lucia Mazzolai

Director of the Heart and Vessel Department

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