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Exploring the Effectiveness and Health Economic Impact of Using Technology in the Assessment of Lymphoedema

I Grants Graphic

Mrs Cheryl Pike, Lymphoedema Network Wales
Start date: April 2019
Duration: 24 months 
Funded amount: £29,000


Lymphoedema can be a consequence of cancer treatment and damage to the lymphatic system results in a build-up of fluid, usually in the limb on the affected cancer side. There are different methods for assessing the severity of a person’s lymphoedema.

Currently, there is limited research investigating the method of assessing and diagnosing lymphoedema; nor which would be the most cost-effective. A universal or gold standard method is also absent within the literature. Thus, within lymphoedema appointments a variety of methods are used.

This study aims to test five different methods of assessment in a lymphoedema clinic to discover which is the most effective in both diagnoses and cost. The methods are circumferential tape measurement, perometer, two types of bio-impedance and patient self-reporting questionnaire.

Circumferential tape measure is where the limb is measured every 4cm and limb volume is calculated using a programme called Lymcalc. The perometer is a device that scans the limb to work out its circumference and calculates limb volume at the same time. Bio-impedance is a device that uses an electrical current to establish how much fluid is in the tissues, and is calculated using a ratio of the affected versus unaffected limb. We will be looking to compare two of these devices namely the Bodystat Quadscan 4000 and the L-Dex® U400.

A patient self-report questionnaire which encourages the person to assess the severity of their lymphoedema, will then be compared to the findings from the physical measurements.
Comparison of the methods of assessment against a person’s opinion of the severity of their lymphoedema will help us understand which method gives the most useful information to a therapist and the person with lymphoedema. Each method will be timed so that a health economics model can identify which method is the most cost effective relating to staff time and cost of device.