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Volumetric Measurements For Lymphedema

Written by Amy Hall
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Taking the Water Test

Volumetric measurements for lymphedema involve having the patient submerge a limb in water, and measuring the amount of water displaced. This has long been proven to be an effective method for measurement, however it is seldom used by therapists treating lymphedema patients. If it is so much more accurate than circumferential measurements for lymphedema, you may be wondering why it is so seldom employed.

Water displacement is not the most convenient way of taking measurements for most therapists. In fact, many physical therapy facilities simply do not have the tools required to perform volumetric measurements for lymphedema, and rely on the good old tape measure. Circumferential measurements are widely used because tape measures are readily available.

Obtaining Volumetric Measurements for Lymphedema

The problem with taking measurements using a tape measure, is that the results can vary from user to user. One therapist may pull the tape more tightly the next therapist, yielding two different measurements. Additionally, the beginning and ending points of the tape measure may also be different from user to user, also changing the results.

In the future, CT scanning, and optoelectronic scanning may be used for measuring lymphedema patients and managing the symptoms better. The use of compression garments are essential in the treatment for lymphedema, as they keep swelling down and encourage the flow of lymph fluid in the body. Patients should be advised on how many hours in a 24 hour period the garments should be worn to yield the best results.


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