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Lymphology. 2011 Jun;44(2):72-81.

Measurement of lymphedema using ultrasonography with the compression method.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.


Lymphedema is swelling of soft tissues by accumulation of lymphatic fluid due to failure of the lymphatic drainage system. Although most measures for lymphedema focus on change of volume or size of the extremity, the physical properties of the tissue such as resistance to compression are also of clinical importance because they affect the quality of life of lymphedema patients. In this study, we aimed to compare the thickness and resistance to compression of the skin and subcutis between the affected and unaffected arms of patients with lymphedema by using ultrasonography together with the compression technique, and we also investigated the factors that have an influence on the results. Thirty-nine patients with post-mastectomy lymphedema participated in this study. All ultrasonographically-assessed thicknesses of skin and subcutaneous tissue in affected upper arms and forearms were significantly larger than the contralateral (p < 0.05) while all resistances to compression values were significantly lower (p < 0.05). These results suggest that measuring the resistance to compression and thickness using the compression method with ultrasonography may be a valuable tool for evaluating lymphedema after breast cancer surgery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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