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Journal of the Korean Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine 2011;35(1):101-109.
Usefulness of Ultrasound Examination in Evaluation of Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema.
Han, Na mi , Cho, Yoon jung , Hwang, Ji sun , Kim, Hyun dong , Cho, Geun yeol
1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Inje University Pusan Paik Hospital, Busan 614-735, Korea. cho810810@hanmail.net
2Haeundae Paik Hospital, Busan 612-030, Korea.
To evaluate the usefulness of ultrasound examination as an adjunctive measurement tool in breast cancer- related lymphedema. Method Twenty healthy volunteers and 20 women who had been treated for unilateral breast cancer and had subsequently developed lymphedema were recruited. Examiners measured the volume of both arm with volumeter and the circumference of both forearm and upper arm with tape measure. Then the thickness of the skin and subcutis on the ventral aspect of forearm and upper arm were measured by ultrasonography. These results were compared with each other.
The ICCs for interrater reliability of ultrasound examination was high (mostly>0.98). The volume of the swollen arm (2,308 ml) was larger than contralateral arm (1,873 ml). The circumference of swollen forearm (24.50 cm) and upper arm (30.81 cm) were larger than contralateral forearm (21.54 cm) and upper arm (27.60 cm). In the swollen side, average thickness of the forearm skin, forearm subcutis, upper arm skin and upper arm subcutis were 0.23 mm, 1.03 mm, 0.19 mm and 0.95 mm respectively. In the contralateral side, average thickness of the forearm skin, forearm subcutis, upper arm skin and upper arm subcutis were 0.12 mm, 0.69 mm, 0.13 mm, 0.73 mm respectively. The degree of increase in mid-forearm skin thickness were correlated with the degree of swelling calculated with volumeter (r=0.651, p=0.002). Conclusion Ultrasonography is able to give valuable information on the extent of edema and fibrosis of skin and subcutis. It will be a useful tool to follow the results of lymphedema treatment and its progression over time.
Key Words: Lymphedema, Measurement, Ultrasonography, Breast cancer


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