Lymphedema Assessment
L-Dex Measurement With SOZO


For information Please Call
Julie Neiggmann, MSN, RN |Nurse Navigator | Santa Maria |805-346-3405
Carol Dichmann, RN, BSN | Nurse Navigator | Arroyo Grande | 805-474-5302


What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a condition that can cause significant swelling of the arm or leg due to extracellular lymph fluid buildup in that part of the body.

This can occur when the lymphatic system, which is responsible for draining excess fluid, is damaged as a result of cancer therapies. (Surgery and/or radiation therapy)

If you have questions about your lymphedema risk please contact your nurse navigator and discuss with your cancer team.

What is L-Dex?

The Lymphedema Index (L-Dex) is a measurement system that is used to aid in the clinical assessment of lymphedema in the arms and legs.

Why should I have an L-Dex measurement?

Lymphedema can occur anytime following cancer treatment.Most conditions occur within the first two years following surgery, but can also develop as late as 10 years following.Therefore, it is important to have regular L-Dex assessments.

Early detection of lymphedema is critical to aid in successful treatment and reversal of the condition.

L-Dex measurements are a non-invasive and sensitive method to aid in the assessment and early detection of lymphedema of the limb.

L-Dex measurements taken prior to cancer treatments, and at regular intervals subsequent to surgery, can help your physician:

  • Establish a baseline for what is “normal” for you
  • Assess the early stages of lymphedema
  • Show you how treatment or management is progressing
  • Give you peace of mind
How does the SOZO system work?

The electrical signal travels through the fluid surrounding the cells which make up the muscle and tissues of the limb.The amount of this fluid increases as lymphedema develops.Increased fluid means the electrical signal will travel more easily through the limb.

The L-Dex system compares how easily the electrical signal travels in the unaffected and affected (or at-risk) limbs and generates on L-Dex value from this comparison.

What does an L-Dex value mean?

The L-Dex value indicates the difference in the amount of fluid in the unaffected and affected limbs.L-Dex values are displayed against a normal healthy range.

How does the L-Dex assessment help me?

The L-Dex system is best used as a series of measurements over time.This aids the healthcare professional to:

  • Assess early stages of lymphedema in patients at risk of developing the condition and therefore start therapy as soon as possible
  • Accurately assess the effectiveness of therapy for those who already have lymphedema

L-Dex values indicative of lymphedema should decrease as a result of effective therapy.

Preparing for your L-Dex measurement

If stockings or pantyhose are worn, prepare to remove them before the reading is taken.Notify the clinician if there is a possibility of pregnancy, if you have a pacemaker or other implanted electronic device or any metal implants such as pins or plates in bones.

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Lymphedema Assessment
Physical Therapy


After your surgery, your surgeon may send you to see a physical therapist.This health care professional will be responsible for helping your body return to its maximum strength and flexibility.They can address any of the following postsurgical issues you may be experiencing:

Scar Tissue

Following lumpectomy, axillary node dissection, or mastectomy, scar tissue can set in and limit range of motion.Scar tissue is thick, fibrous material with little or no suppleness.It can prevent you from fully using your arm on the operated side.It can also prevent you from maintaining good posture, which can lead to chronic back and shoulder problems.The physical therapist can apply pressure therapy to soften up and dissolve the scar tissue, and may teach you techniques to use at home. The therapist also oversees specific exercises to help you regain your strength and mobility.

Lymphedema

Axillary node dissection may lead to lymphedema, which is a swelling of the trunk arm, hand, or breast due to collection of fluid in the tissues.A qualified physical therapist can provide manual decongestive therapy, which is a technique that promotes fluid flow back into your bloodstream, where it belongs.

Some patients require compression garments for lymphedema.The physical therapist can make sure that the garments are fitting properly and that they are being used correctly. If other types of compression for lymphedema are needed, the physical therapist will supervise your use of them.

Cording

Axillary node dissection may also lead to cording, which is the formation of bands of scar tissue that can extend from your armpit down the arm.These cords may be visible beneath the skin, and they may be easy to feel.Cording creates a pulling sensation with arm movements and limits mobility.Sometimes it is painful.A breast surgery physical therapist is specially trained to manually release cording, restoring range of motion and relieving pain.

Physical therapy may be prescribed a few weeks after your surgery or even months later.Scar tissue can set in at any time and if it is causing problems, a physical therapist should be able to help. You should let your physician know if you feel that scar tissue is developing and is limiting your activities.A visit to the physical therapist will likely improve the situation.