Flexitouch – Direct Evidence of Lymphatic Function Improvement after Advanced Pneumatic Compression Device Treatment of Lymphedema

Authors: Kristen E. Adams, PhD, John C. Rasmussen, PhD, Chinmay Darne, PhD, I-Chih Tan, PhD, Melissa B. Aldrich, PhD, Milton V. Marshall, PhD, Caroline E. Fife, MD, Erik A. Maus, MD, Latisha A. Smith, MD, Renie Guilloid, MD, Sunday Hoy, Esq., and Eva M. Sevick-Muraca, PhD

PublishedBiomedical Optics Express. 2010; Vol. 1(1): 114–125


Lymphedema affects up to 50% of all breast cancer survivors. Management with pneumatic compression devices (PCDs) is controversial, owing to the lack of methods to directly assess benefit. This pilot study employed an investigational, near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging technique to evaluate lymphatic response to PCD therapy in normal control and breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) subjects.


The rate of lymphatic propulsion increased during and post-treatment as compared to pre-treatment. Vessel recruitment was seen in two of the three control subjects. Lymphatic function improved in all control subjects, as indicated through increased rates of lymphatic propulsion and/or vessel recruitment. Statistically significant differences were evident between the rates of propulsion in the treated arms pre- and post-treatment. The rate of propulsion tended to increase in the untreated arms of control subjects, not only after Flexitouch treatment, but also during the initial preparation phases, suggesting improved systemic lymphatic drainage associated with advanced Flexitouch treatment.


This study presents direct evidence that Flexitouch treatment improves lymphatic function systemically both during and after treatment.

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