Flexitouch – Pneumatic Compression Improves Quality of Life in Patients with Lower-Extremity Lymphedema
Authors: Sheila N. Blumberg, MD, MS, Todd Berland, MD, Caron Rockman, MD, Firas Mussa, MD, Allison Brooks, MSN, RN-BC, Neal Cayne, MD, Thomas Maldonado, MD
Published: Annals of Vascular Surgery. 2015; Vol. 29(4): 628-629
Lymphedema is an incurable and disfiguring disease secondary to excessive fluid and protein in the interstitium as a result of lymphatic obstruction. Pneumatic compression (PC) offers a novel modality for treatment of lymphatic obstruction through targeting lymphatic beds and mimicking a functional drainage system. The objective of this study is to demonstrate improved quality of life in patients with lower-extremity lymphedema.
A total of 100 patients met inclusion criteria. At presentation, 70% were female with a mean age of 57.5 years. Secondary lymphedema was present in 78%. Mean length of PC use was 12.7 months with a mean of 5.3 treatments per week. Ankle and calf limb girth decreased after PC use, (28.3 vs. 27.5 cm, p = 0.01) and (44.7 vs. 43.8 cm, p = 0.018), respectively. The number of episodes of cellulitis and ulcers pre- and post-PC decreased from mean of 0.26 – 0.05 episodes (p = 0.002) and 0.12 – 0.02 ulcers (p = 0.007), respectively. Fourteen percent had concomitant superficial venous insufficiency, all of whom underwent venous ablation. Overall 100% of patients reported symptomatic improvement post-PC with 54% greatly improved. Ninety percent would recommend the treatment to others.
Pneumatic compression improves symptom relief and reduces episodes of cellulitis and ulceration in lower-extremity lymphedema. It is well tolerated by patients and should be recommended as an adjunct to standard lymphedema therapy. Screening for venous insufficiency is recommended.