Background: We prospectively assessed the incidence, risk factors, and costs associated with wound complications and lymphedema in melanoma patients undergoing inguinal lymph node dissection (ILND). Materials and Methods: A total of 53 melanoma patients were accrued to 2 trials (June 2005 to July 2008) that included prospective evaluations of postoperative complications; 30-day wound complications included infection, seroma, and/or dehiscence. There were 20 patients who underwent limb volume measurement and completed a 19-item lymphedema symptom assessment questionnaire preoperatively and 3 months postoperatively. A multivariate analysis was performed to evaluate potential risk factors for complications. A microcosting analysis was also performed to evaluate the direct costs associated with wound complications. Results: The 30-day wound complications were noted in 77.4% of patients. A BMI > k for wound complications (odds ratio [OR] = 11.4, 95% confidence interval [95%CI] 1.6-78.5, P = .01), while advanced nodal disease approached significance (OR = 9.0, 95%CI: 0.79-103.1, P = .08). Other risk factors, including diabetes, smoking, and the addition of a deep pelvic (iliac/obturator) dissection to ILND, were not significant. Of 20 patients, 9 (45%) developed limb volume change (LVC) > 5% at 3 months, with associated mean symptom scores of 6.1 versus 4.6 for those without LVC. Costs for patients with wound complications were significantly higher than for those without wound complications. Conclusions: Postoperative wound complications and early onset lymphedema occur frequently following ILND for melanoma. Obesity is an adverse risk factor for 30-day wound complications that can significantly increase postoperative costs, as is likely the case for advanced disease. Risk reduction practices and novel treatment approaches are needed to reduce postoperative morbidity.
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