Last updated on September 2018

Bioimpedance Spectroscopy Versus Tape Measure in Prevention of Lymphedema

Brief description of study

Based upon the current state of science, the investigators are proposing to conduct a randomized clinical trial in which participants are randomized post-surgery to either BIS or circumferential (tape) measurements for follow-up arm measurements. When patients in the BIS group have an L-Dex change that is 6.5 units higher than the pre-surgical baseline measure, and when patients in the tape measurement group have a volume change in the at-risk arm that is between 5% and <10% above pre-surgical baselines (without similar change in non-at-risk arm), both will receive four weeks of 23-32 mm compression sleeve and gauntlet therapy.

Detailed Study Description

The treatment of lymphedema following breast cancer therapy is typically a burdensome multi-modality process that entails different degrees of intensity depending on the severity of fluid accumulation. In breast cancer survivors, it is most commonly initiated after visible swelling occurs in a limb. Common treatments utilized are multi-modality and include massage, compression, exercises, and skin care. The current gold standard treatment for advanced fluid accumulation is complex decongestive physiotherapy (CDP). CDP includes components of compression, lymphatic drainage, skin care, and exercise and is commonly delivered in two phases with the first phase being a several week course delivered in the outpatient clinical setting and the second a home maintenance program. CDP is considered the gold standard due to prospective data demonstrating its efficacy, a series of 537 patients found significant arm volume decreases with CDP and subsequent studies have confirmed volume reductions along with improved quality of life in those patients undergoing CDP. Studies comparing CDP to other treatment modalities are limited but some have favored CDP. CDP is limited in that access to long term prospective follow-up treatment may not take place and it requires significant resources and costs.

Recent studies have suggested that early diagnosis and treatment allow for less burdensome and aggressive therapy utilization moving forward. Increasing data support the idea that early intervention improves outcomes for women with lymphedema following breast cancer treatment. Recent prospective data have shown that with a short course of compression therapy (sleeve and gauntlet), ranging from 4 to 6 weeks, the rate of progression of fluid accumulation is limited. Specifically, the Stout Gergich et al. study provided sound preliminary data to support that four weeks of treatment using a 20-30 mmHg compression garment and gauntlet can, over 18 months of post intervention follow-up, reduce volume and prevent the need for CDP.

These findings are encouraging; however, it should be noted that these studies have significant limitations including small patient numbers, limited follow up, a lack of randomization, and a lack of subclinical detection of increasing extracellular fluid. Therefore, while some data exist that suggest that early intervention with clinically apparent extracellular fluid accumulation is beneficial, there are less data to support the hypothesis that subclinical detection and subsequent early intervention are beneficial. Based on data from these studies, it may be possible to prevent chronic lymphedema with early detection and intervention. Early detection may be best achieved by identifying changes in extracellular fluid instead of change in whole arm volume. Given the potential to improve patient outcomes and possibly prevent chronic lymphedema, additional research is warranted in large randomized trials that address some of the limitations of the previous work.

BIS is a technology designed to identify changes in extracellular fluid. The investigators propose to determine if subclinical detection of increasing extracellular fluid via BIS and subsequent early treatment with four weeks of a compression sleeve and gauntlet results in a reduction in the rates of progression to chronic lymphedema as compared to the same intervention when initiated from use of the most common arm measurement method (tape measurement).

The investigators will secondarily explore selective correlatives related to lymphedema and lymphedema progression. As multiple factors may lead to lymphedema, the influence of potential risk factors on lymphedema progression will be evaluated. Time to actual progression will also be examined. Because lymphedema results in problematic symptoms and diminished quality of life, correlatives using validated instruments will also be examined.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02167659

Contact Investigators or Research Sites near you

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Sarah McLaughlin, MD

Mayo Clinic
Jacksonville, FL United States

Jamie Wagner, MO

University of Kansas Medical Center
Kansas City, KS United States

Nicolas Ajkay, MD

University of Louisville
Louisville, KY United States

Sheila H Ridner, PhD

Southeast Health
Cape Girardeau, MO United States

Bret Taback, MD

New York Presbyterian - University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell
New York, NY United States

Michael Cowher, MD

Allegheny Health Research Institute
Pittsburgh, PA United States

Sheila H Ridner, PhD

Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN United States

Sheila H Ridner, PhD

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX United States

Sheila H Ridner, PhD

Massey Cancer Center
Richmond, VA United States

Louise Koelmeyer, BAppSc

Macquarie University
Sydney, Australia

Recruitment Status: Closed

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