Background Lymphedema is a rare, progressive, and debilitating condition caused by failure of the lymphatic system to adequately drain the protein-rich fluid exiting the capillaries. Conservative management is often emphasized in pediatric patients, resulting in a paucity of literature describing surgical treatment in this population. Methods A systematic review was performed using PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Google Scholar to identify all studies describing surgical management of lymphedema in the pediatric population. Results Of the 343 relevant articles identified, 14 met the criteria for full review. Articles were divided into the following treatment categories: genital lymphedema, excisional procedures for extremity lymphedema, and physiologic procedures for extremity lymphedema. Outcomes for genital lymphedema were overall positive. For extremity lymphedema, excisional procedures yielded good results overall and included the majority of patients in this study. Physiologic procedures had mixed outcomes in the small population included in this study, but definitive conclusions cannot be drawn due to the paucity of existing data. Conclusion While conservative management of pediatric lymphedema is well described, the literature remains sparse regarding surgical treatment. Further studies are needed to evaluate efficacy and outcomes in all three categories in this population.
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