Use of photoacoustic imaging to determine the effects of aging on lower extremity lymphatic vessel function

Yushi Suzuki, Hiroki Kajita, Anna Oh, Masashi Takemaru, Hisashi Sakuma, Tetsuya Tsuji, Nobuaki Imanishi, Sadakazu Aiso, Kazuo Kishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Aging is one of the causes of primary lymphedema. However, the effects of aging on the lymphatic system are still not completely understood. We investigated the effects of aging on the lymphatic vessels in the lower extremities of healthy volunteers using photoacoustic imaging. Methods: Healthy volunteers who underwent photoacoustic lymphangiography between March 2018 and January 2019 were enrolled. To visualize lymphatics, indocyanine green (ICG, 5.0 mg/mL) was injected subcutaneously into the first and fourth web spaces of the foot and under the lateral malleolus. Subsequently, near-infrared fluorescence lymphography was performed to confirm good ICG flow, and photoacoustic lymphangiography was performed on the medial side of the lower leg. Ti sapphire laser irradiation at 797 and 835 nm, the optimal wavelengths for visualizing ICG and blood, was applied. The number of lymphatic vessels shown at areas 10 cm (L10) and 20 cm (L20) cranially from the internal malleolus was counted. Results: Nineteen healthy volunteers (4 males and 15 females) were enrolled in the study. Their mean age was 42.9 ± 12.8 years. One volunteer was bilaterally imaged; 15 left lower limbs and 5 right lower limbs were imaged. The number of lymphatic vessels visualized increased with age. There were strong positive correlations between age and L10 (R = 0.729, P <.001) and between age and L20 (R = 0.570, P =.009). Conclusions: Photoacoustic imaging indicates that the number of lymphatic vessels increases with age. Lymphatic stasis resulted in visualization of not only normal drainage pathways but also nonfunctional lymphatic pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-130
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jan


  • Aging
  • Lymphatic vessel
  • Photoacoustic imaging
  • Photoacoustic lymphangiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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