Lymphatic Obstruction | Causes and Treatments | MedStar Health

A blockage of the lymphatic vessels that causes fluid to accumulate in tissues

The lymphatic system consists of nodes and vessels that drain toxins and other waste products from your body’s tissues. A blockage in these vessels can cause lymphedema, a build-up of fluid in your body’s tissues, or lymphangitis, an infection of the vessels.

Our doctors will work with you to develop a treatment plan to fight chronic lymphatic issues and offer you the most advanced treatment techniques to treat your mild, moderate, or severe lymphatic obstruction.

What causes a lymphatic obstruction?

Lymphatic obstruction can be the result of a genetic malformation of the lymphatic vessels, which can cause primary lymphedema. Our cardiovascular genetics counseling can help you identify your family’s genetic risk for lymphatic obstruction.

Secondary lymphedema is caused by the removal of a lymph node, often as part of cancer treatment such as a mastectomy. When the node is removed, you are more likely to experience a blockage in the lymphatic vessels.


Diagnosing a lymphatic condition is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.


Lymphatic obstruction is often a chronic condition that will require ongoing treatment. Our vascular teams work with other specialties to develop and implement individualized plans to treat lymphatic diseases. This treatment plan could include compression garments, exercise therapy, medication, or more advanced treatments.

Additional information

Genetic counseling and testing for heart conditions

Our cardiogenetics experts work to improve early detection and treatment for patients at risk for certain genetic heart conditions.