Intermittent pneumatic compressive treatment – the therapeutic effect on the reduction of postsurgical lymphedema of the upper limb

Dr. Iulia Antonia Pop1,2,4, Dr. Monica Vardai1,3, Dr. Mihaela Leșe1,3,4

1Centrul Medical Fortis Baia Mare, România, 2Medicină internă, 3Chirurgie general, 4Doctor în stiințe medicale  

Primit: 15.08.2022 • Acceptat pentru publicare: 30.08.2022


Aims: the purpose of the paper is to bring to the fore the issue of post-surgical lymphedema in breast cancer patients in our country, as well as evaluating the safety and effectiveness of intermittent pneumatic compression therapy.

Methods: in this retrospective longitudinal study, data of 41 patients with unilateral postsurgical lymphedema secondary to breast cancer therapy who underwent intermittent pneumatic compression treatment were used, registered in the database of Fortis Diagnosis Centre Baia-Mare. The compressive treatment was carried out weekly, consisting of sessions of 30 minutes, using the 8-chamber sleeve compression pump at a standard pressure of 40-50 mmHg. The determination of the circumference of the upper limb was carried out weekly at the end of the compressive treatment session, at the level of the hand, forearm and arm. Results: The average age of the patients was 58.15 ± 6.82 years; 68.29% coming from rural areas. The mean value for the onset of edema was 27.46 months post-intervention, and the mean value for the duration of edema was 11.24 months. The average hand circumference decreased by 0.98 cm (p = 0.000*) compared to the initial value, at the forearm level the decrease was 0.76 cm (p = 0.026), and at the arm level there was a decrease of 1.28 cm (p = 0.000*).

Conclusions: the use of intermittent pneumatic compression as an adjunct to complex decongestive therapy provides an improvement in the therapeutic response during the maintenance period to reduce the volume of postsurgical lymphedema, being well tolerated by patients and free of adverse effects or complications.

 Keywords: lymphedema, breast carcinoma, compressive treatment, pump, circumference