Departmental News


In September 1997, a grant of $50,000 was awarded to University Hospital and Medical Center to support the prevention and treatment of lymphedema. The ability to access funding through this grant will allow more patients, most of whom are surgical patients, to receive care for this potentially disabling condition.

Dr. John J. Ricotta, professor and chairman of surgery, authored the grant proposal and is the project director. The clinical program will be coordinated by Catherine M. Tuppo, director of physical and occupational therapy. It is expected that the program, which at present is limited in its services, will be fully implemented by February of next year.

Awarded by the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation (NY), the philanthropic grant enables patients with lymphedema, who are undergoing physical therapy treatment, to obtain funding for payment of rehabilitation services not covered by their medical insurance (third-party payers). Frequently third-party payers reimburse for only part of the necessary treatment, resulting in a large out-of-pocket expense by patients.

Lymphedema is very common, affecting at least 3 million Americans. Some patients develop it after surgery or radiation therapy for various cancers (breast, prostate, bladder, uterus, melanoma, lymphoma) in which case it is referred to as secondary lymphedema. Other patients develop it without obvious cause at different stages in life (primary lymphedema), and still others develop it after trauma or deep vein thrombosis.

Lymphedema is serious because of the disability it causes, because of the cosmetic deformities that are difficult to hide, because of the frequent complications that occur (cellulitis, lymphangitis, lymphorrhea, skin thickening), and because of the continuous worsening of the condition in untreated patients.

Thanks to the generosity of the Langeloth Foundation, patient access to lymphedema care at Stony Brook has been much enhanced.

For more information, please call Catherine Tuppo at 631-444-2620.

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