The ALERT model of care for the assessment and personalized management of patients with lymphoedema

J. Boyages*, L. A. Koelmeyer, H. Suami, T. Lam, Q. D. Ngo, A. Heydon-White, S. Czerniec, S. Munot, K. Ho-Shon, H. Mackie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This study documents the development and evaluation of a comprehensive multidisciplinary model for the assessment and personalized care of patients with lymphoedema.

Methods: The Australian Lymphoedema Education Research and Treatment (ALERT) programme originated as an advanced clinic for patients considering surgery for lymphoedema. The programme commenced liposuction surgery in May 2012 and then introduced lymph node transfer in 2013 and lymphovenous anastomosis (LVA) in 2016. An outpatient conservative treatment clinic was established in 2016. ALERT commenced investigations with indocyanine green (ICG) lymphography in late 2015, leading to the creation of a diagnostic assessment clinic offering ICG in 2017.

Results: Since 2012, 1200 new patients have been referred to ALERT for assessment of lymphoedema for a total of 5043 episodes of care. The introduction of ICG lymphography in 2015 initially allowed better screening for LVA, but is now used not only to guide surgical options, but also as a diagnostic tool and to guide manual lymphatic drainage massage. The total number of new patients who attended the surgical assessment clinic to December 2018 was 477, with 162 patients (34·0 per cent) undergoing surgery.

Conclusion: The ALERT programme has developed a multidisciplinary model of care for personalized lymphoedema treatment options based on clinical, imaging and ICG lymphography. Patients are selected for surgery based on several individual factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-247
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Surgery
Issue number3
Early online date6 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


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