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Reviewed July 2015
What is Meige disease?
Meige disease is a condition that affects the normal function of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system consists of a network of vessels that transport lymphatic fluid and immune cells throughout the body. Meige disease is characterized by the abnormal transport of lymphatic fluid. When this fluid builds up abnormally, it causes swelling (lymphedema) in the lower limbs.
Meige disease is classified as a primary lymphedema, which means it is a form of lymphedema that is not caused by other health conditions. In Meige disease, the lymphatic system abnormalities are present from birth (congenital), although the swelling is not usually apparent until puberty. The swelling often begins in the feet and ankles and progresses up the legs to the knees. Some affected individuals develop non-contagious skin infections called cellulitis or erysipelas in the legs, which can further damage the vessels that carry lymphatic fluid.
How common is Meige disease?
The prevalence of Meige disease is unknown. Collectively, the many types of primary lymphedema affect an estimated 1 in 100,000 people younger than 20; Meige disease is the most common type of primary lymphedema.
For unknown reasons, this condition affects females about three times as often as males.
What genes are related to Meige disease?
The cause of Meige disease is unknown. The condition is thought to be genetic because it tends to run in families, and other forms of primary lymphedema have been found to have a genetic cause. Researchers have studied many genes associated with the lymphatic system; however, no genetic change has been definitively found to cause the signs and symptoms of Meige disease.
How do people inherit Meige disease?
Meige disease appears to have an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. Autosomal dominant inheritance means one copy of an altered gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the disorder, although no genes have been associated with Meige disease.
People with Meige disease usually have at least one other affected family member. In most cases, an affected person has one parent with the condition. When the condition occurs in only one person in a family, the condition is described as Meige-like disease.
Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of Meige disease?
These resources address the diagnosis or management of Meige disease and may include treatment providers.
General information about the diagnosis and management of genetic conditions is available in the Handbook. Read more about genetic testing, particularly the difference between clinical tests and research tests.
To locate a healthcare provider, see How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about Meige disease?
You may find the following resources about Meige disease helpful. These materials are written for the general public.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.
What other names do people use for Meige disease?
What if I still have specific questions about Meige disease?
Where can I find general information about genetic conditions?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding Meige disease?
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (3 links)
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.