LYMPHOEDEMA: WHAT CAN BE MEASURED AND HOW…

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OVERVIEW

BELGRADO J.P.*, BRACALE P.*, BATES J.*, RÖH N.**, ROSIELLO R.**, CANGIANO A.***,

MORAINE J.J.*

*** FSM – Université Libre de Bruxelles – Belgium

*** European Medical Center – Bruxelles – Belgium

*** Centro Serapide – Napoli – Italy

Corresponding author: JP Belgrado, PT Dhrs

Université Libre de Bruxelles

Faculté des Sciences de la Motricité

CP 640 Campus Erasme

808, route de Lennik

1070 Bruxelles

Belgium

e-mail Amoxil online belgrado@ulb.ac.be

THE EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF LYMPHOLOGY – Vol. XXI – Nr. 61 – 2010

1. INTRODUCTION

The evolution of lymphoedema during physical treatment appears

quite easy to measure, especially if we limit ourselves to

considering the decrease in its volume, and furthermore if we limit

the volume’s measurement to the geometry of the arms, forearms,

legs and thighs to a cylinder (lymphoedema reside mostly in these

anatomical segments). On the other hand if we want to observe

more complex anatomical areas such as the breast or scrotum, and

especially when we take into account other parameters that are

equally as interesting, such as the quality of the skin, it’s water

density, the thickness of the dermis etc., the task of remaining

precise becomes much more complex.

With regard to the measurement of the shape of the oedema, a

series of pictures taken in standardized conditions (which are

explained in detail below), can suffice for the analysis of the

treatment’s results and the control of its efficiency. But how can

we deal with more complicated geometries like the root of the

limb, hands, feet, the face, breasts, external genitalia…and again

other parameters that are less visible to the naked eye such as the

thickness of the dermis, the variation of the subcutaneous tissue,

the skin’s temperature, the quality of the skin, the tonicity of the

oedema, the joint’s function, the quality of life, etc. All of them

are measurable and important in the evaluation of the treatment’s

efficacy. Regular measuring in the daily practice represents an

important part in the assessment of the oedema’s evolution, and

the more parameters the therapist can avail of, the better equipped

they will be to adapt the treatment to each patient’s specificities.

Another interesting application of the knowledge that can be

obtained from measuring the affected area is the predictive factor

or early indicator: detecting slight changes that are invisible to the

THE EUROPEAN JOURNAL

OF lymphology

and related problems

VOLUME 21 • No. 61 • 2010

INDEXED IN EXCERPTA MEDICA