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Background: This case-control retrospective study focused on the extracellular water ratio (%ECW) of lymphedemic limbs measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) as a possible indicator of the development and severity of unilateral and bilateral leg lymphedema. Methods and Results: BIA was used to evaluate changes in %ECW due to lymphedema in female patients with unilateral secondary leg lymphedema and in healthy controls. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was employed to assess the diagnostic ability of %ECW to distinguish leg lymphedema patients from controls. Thirty-eight female patients were eligible for inclusion along with an equal number of healthy control volunteers. The %ECW of the affected leg correlated with leg body water volume (R2 = 0.28) and the water volume difference between affected and unaffected legs (R2 = 0.58). The ROC analysis showed that %ECW had a high diagnostic ability as a screening tool for the development of leg lymphedema (area under the ROC curve = 0.96). A cutoff %ECW value of 40.0% could predict the presence of leg lymphedema with a sensitivity of 81.6% and specificity of 97.4%. Conclusions: %ECW value may be a simple and useful indicator of the development and severity of leg lymphedema. As a screening test, %ECW measurement can predict the presence of unilateral or bilateral leg lymphedema in a single measurement without the need for arm, contralateral leg, or previous measurements as controls.


Yoshichika Yasunaga, Saeko Kondoh, Yuta Nakajima, Shinei Mimura, Miharu Kobayashi, Shunsuke Yuzuriha, Shoji Kondoh. Extracellular Water Ratio as an Indicator of the Development and Severity of Leg Lymphedema Using Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis. Lymphatic research and biology. 2021 Jun;19(3):223-230

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PMID: 33185511

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