Lymphangiomatosis is a condition where a lymphangioma is not present in a single localised mass, but in a widespread or multifocal manner. It is a rare type of tumor which results from an abnormal development of the lymphatic system.
Overview of Lymphangiomatosis
Lymphangiomatosis is a disease in which many tumors (lymphangiomas) or cysts grow in the lymph system of the body.
Although these tumors are not cancerous, they invade the body tissues and cause pain, difficulty breathing, and a variety of other symptoms depending on where they occur.
Lymphangiomas may grow in the bones, connective tissue, and organs of the body, and they may obstruct, compress, or destroy tissues.
Causes of Lymphangiomatosis
The cause of lymphangiomatosis is not yet known. As stated earlier, it is generally considered to be the result of congenital errors of lymphatic development occurring prior to the 20th week of gestation.
However, the root causes of these conditions remains unknown and further research is necessary.
Symptoms of Lymphangiomatosis
The symptoms of lymphangiomatosis depend on where the tumors are growing in the body.
Lungs – may cause a chronic cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, a collection of fluid around the lungs
Heart – rapid heartbeat, chest pain
Stomach, intestines – abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Kidneys – pain, increased blood pressure
Bones – pain, weakening of the bone leading to fracture, pinched nerves in the spine
Diagnosis of Lymphangiomatosis
Diagnosis of lymphangiomatosis is based on the symptoms and the presence of many lymphangiomas in the body.
CT (computed tomography) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to evaluate the disease.
A tissue sample (biopsy) is taken to help confirm that the tumors are lymphangiomas.
Treatment of Lymphangiomatosis
Lymphangiomatosis slowly worsens over time. As the tumors grow, they may cause serious symptoms, some of which may be life-threatening, such as causing fluid to collect around the lungs that restricts breathing.
Surgical removal of tumors is possible, but some tumors may be difficult to completely remove if they have spread out. A medication called Intron A (interferon alfa), chemotherapy, or radiation therapy may be helpful in treating the disease.
Other treatments or surgeries may be helpful in relieving some of the symptoms or problems caused by lymphangiomatosis.
For example, a tube may be inserted into the chest (thoracentesis) to drain off accumulated fluid, or surgery may be done on the spine to relieve pinched nerves.