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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®

Meige lymphedema

Reviewed November 2010

What is Meige lymphedema?

Meige lymphedema is a condition that affects the normal function of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system transports fluids and immune cells throughout the body. Meige lymphedema is characterized by the abnormal transport of lymph fluid. When this fluid builds up abnormally, it causes swelling (lymphedema). Meige lymphedema is classified as a primary lymphedema, meaning that the malfunctioning of the lymphatic system is present from birth (congenital). Meige lymphedema is one of the few primary lymphedemas that does not have any signs or symptoms affecting other parts of the body.

Individuals with Meige lymphedema usually develop swelling during puberty. The swelling typically occurs in the lower legs and feet. Some affected individuals develop a non-contagious skin infection called cellulitis, which can further damage the thin tubes that carry lymph fluid (lymphatic vessels).

How common is Meige lymphedema?

The prevalence of Meige lymphedema is unknown. Collectively, the many types of primary lymphedema affect an estimated 1.15 in 100,000 people younger than 20.

For unknown reasons, this condition affects females about three times as often as males.

What genes are related to Meige lymphedema?

The cause of Meige lymphedema 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 specific genetic change has been found to cause the signs and symptoms of Meige lymphedema.

How do people inherit Meige lymphedema?

Meige lymphedema 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 lymphedema.

People with Meige lymphedema 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 lymphedema.

Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of Meige lymphedema?

These resources address the diagnosis or management of Meige lymphedema and may include treatment providers.

  • Genetic Testing Registry: Lymphedema praecox (
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine: Lymphedema Management (

You might also find information on the diagnosis or management of Meige lymphedema in Educational resources (/condition/meige-lymphedema/show/Educational+resources) and Patient support (/condition/meige-lymphedema/show/Patient+support).

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 lymphedema?

You may find the following resources about Meige lymphedema 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 lymphedema?

  • lymphedema praecox
  • Meige disease

For more information about naming genetic conditions, see the Genetics Home Reference Condition Naming Guidelines ( and How are genetic conditions and genes named? ( in the Handbook.

What if I still have specific questions about Meige lymphedema?

Ask the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (

What glossary definitions help with understanding Meige lymphedema?

autosomal ; autosomal dominant ; cell ; congenital ; gene ; infection ; inheritance ; lymph ; lymphatic system ; lymphedema ; pattern of inheritance ; prevalence ; puberty

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary (/glossary).


  • Connell F, Brice G, Jeffery S, Keeley V, Mortimer P, Mansour S. A new classification system for primary lymphatic dysplasias based on phenotype. Clin Genet. 2010 May;77(5):438-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2010.01394.x. (
  • Rezaie T, Ghoroghchian R, Bell R, Brice G, Hasan A, Burnand K, Vernon S, Mansour S, Mortimer P, Jeffery S, Child A, Sarfarazi M. Primary non-syndromic lymphoedema (Meige disease) is not caused by mutations in FOXC2. Eur J Hum Genet. 2008 Mar;16(3):300-4. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201982. Epub 2008 Jan 16. (
  • Shinawi M. Lymphedema of the lower extremity: is it genetic or nongenetic? Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2007 Nov;46(9):835-41. Epub 2007 Jul 19. (


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.

Reviewed: November 2010
Published: May 18, 2015