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Volume Measurements For Lymphedema

Written by Amy Hall
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Getting Accurate Results

Volume measurements for lymphedema may surely be more accurate than the standard circumferential measurements commonly used, but they are seldom employed by therapists. Volumetric measurements for lymphedema involve submerging the limb in water to see how much of that water is displaced. This is supposed to give the most accurate reading to the therapist who is trying to fit the patient with proper compression garments.

The reason volume measurements for lymphedema are seldom used is because it is a more cumbersome method of obtaining results. Most therapists take circumferential measurements because a tape measure is readily available and easy to use. It is important to understand that while a tape measure is convenient, it can also yield results that fluctuate between therapists.

Why Are Volume Measurements for Lymphedema Better?

To understand the preference for volumetric measurements, let's first look at how circumferential measurements can be less accurate. The measurement one therapist gets on a patient can vary from the measurements another therapist gets on the same patient. When using a tape measure on a patient, several factors can change the results.

For instance, how tightly the therapist pulls the tape and from what point along the limb the tape begins and ends can greatly effect the outcome measurement. One therapist can pull the tape more tightly and come up with a smaller measurement than a different therapist who takes the same measurement on the same person. Water displacement measurements, while not as convenient, provide much more accuracy and allow the patient to be fitted with the best garment for his or her needs.

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