Patients Can Use At-Home Lymphedema Arm Volumeter

New device is lighter and safer than standard model, and inexpensive to construct

TUESDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A newly designed arm volumeter that can be built with common plumbing supplies may allow breast cancer patients to quickly, accurately and inexpensively measure lymphedema at home, according to a report in the Dec. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Jean Lette, M.D., of Maisonneuve Hospital in Montreal, Canada, developed the arm volumeter based on the water displacement method and compared it with a standard volumeter used in lymphedema clinics. Constructed from inexpensive plumbing materials, the new arm volumeter comprises a cylindrical water container with a cap on the bottom and an outflow spout on top.

Lette found that the volumeter was as accurate as, and more precise than, the standard hospital model volumeter when used in 15 volunteers. Additionally, it only required 10.6 liters of water, compared with 22.5 liters used in the standard volumeter, making it lighter and easier to handle. Since it is designed for home-use, the new volumeter decreases risk of bacterial and fungal skin infections.

"Readily accessible arm volumetry at home may have widespread influence on the management of lymphedema after breast cancer," Lette concludes. The author has no conflict of interest and includes instructions on how to build and use the device at the end of the study.

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