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Summary

Background  Lymphoedema is increasingly recognized as a significant problem in healthcare. The number of patients is growing, posing a future challenge to healthcare systems and economics. Over the past decade, specialized lymphoedema management has been established around the world to accommodate the growing demands. However, information on organization, experiences and outcome are scarce.

Objectives  To conduct a clinical perspective analysis describing the establishment, organization, function and results of a new, multidisciplinary lymphoedema centre functioning as a university hospital unit in connection to a department of dermatology and the Copenhagen Wound Healing Center and integrated as a national expert function in the public healthcare organization of Denmark.

Methods  Data were collected following the establishment of a lymphoedema centre based on the structured, multidisciplinary organization of lymphoedema management.

Results  During the first 4·5 years a total of 8058 patient consultations were performed. The mean duration of symptoms at the first visit was 19 years (range 1–67) and 31% of patients had never received any diagnosis or treatment prior to referral. Complications were found in 48% of referred patients. All patients received appropriate diagnostic investigations and treatment according to best practice. Multidisciplinary assessment involving four or more different healthcare professions was needed in 86% of cases. Research opportunities and expert education of staff were enhanced.

Conclusions  A multidisciplinary lymphoedema centre improves management, knowledge and awareness of lymphoedema. This model, with minor adjustments, may be applicable for other regions and countries.