Tissue Dielectric Constant and Skin Stiffness Relationships in Lower Extremity Lymphedema.

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Lymphatic Research and Biology


collagen, dielectric constant, hardness, indentation, lower extremity edema, lymphedema, tissue fibrosis.




Background: Lower extremity lymphedema or edema (LELE) may progressively transition from a state of excess tissue fluid to increased fat accumulation and collagen deposition, with tissue fibrosis and hardening. Such changes may lead to altered tissue water holding and thereby impact tissue dielectric constant (TDC). This study seeks to evaluate the relationship between TDC and tissue indentation force (TIF) in patients with LELE and assess the utility of the leg/arm TDC ratio (LAR) as an indicator of LELE. Methods and Results: Thirty females (49–91 years) with previously diagnosed LELE were evaluated during a scheduled session. TDC and TIF were measured 8 cm proximal to the medial malleolus on the medial and lateral aspects of both legs and on one forearm 8 cm distal to the antecubital fossa. The TDC–TIC relationship and the LAR were subsequently determined. Main results showed an absence of a significant correlation between TDC and TIF on medial or lateral leg sites but a positive correlation on the normal forearm site. Further, LAR values exceeded the published proposed threshold of 1.35 for 29/30 patients when using medialside TDC values and 28/30 patients when using lateral-side TDC values. Conclusions: Findings suggest that for patients with LELE, TDC values are significantly elevated on medial and lateral standardized sites. The LAR determined using either medial or lateral sites that are similar to each other and have values consistent with a lymphedema threshold of 1.35. In edematous legs of the type evaluated herein, there is no apparent relationship between TDC values and indentation force.



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