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Care of Patients with Lymphedema, Elephantiasis or Hydrocele

Lymphedema and elephantiasis are not indications for DEC treatment because most people with lymphedema are not actively infected with the filarial parasite and lab tests are generally negative in these patients.

To prevent the lymphedema from worsening, physicians should consider referring lymphedema patients to a certified lymphedema therapist so patients can be informed about basic principles of care such as hygiene, exercise, elevation, and treatment of wounds and infections. Complex decongestive physiotherapy can be effective for treating lymphedema. The National Lymphedema Network website lists certified lymphedema therapists and lymphedema organizations in the U.S.

Patients with hydrocele may have evidence of active infection, but typically do not improve clinically following treatment with DEC. The treatment for hydrocele is surgery (hydrocelectomy).

  • Page last reviewed: June 14, 2013
  • Page last updated: November 2, 2010
  • Content source:
    • Global Health - Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
    • Notice: Linking to a non-federal site does not constitute an endorsement by HHS, CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the site.
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