Lymphoedema is usually diagnosed by an experienced Lymphoedema Therapist or doctor who is experienced in working with people with lymphoedema. You can access such therapists from the www.nlpr.asn.au. These therapists will make a diagnosis based on:
- the description of symptoms
- the history that a person gives
- they will also palpate and feel the areas involved
- look at the appearance of the skin
- take tape measures
- may take a bioimpedance measure
Bioimpedance is taken by a small machine that passes a low frequency current through the body to measure how much fluid is in an arm or a leg compared to the other arm or leg. If there is significantly more fluid in one limb compared to the other, this may be indicative of the lymphatic system struggling in this limb and may be suggestive of lymphoedema or the commencement of lymphoedema. This permits early detection and therefore, prompt intervention to help the lymphatic system. This test takes seconds, is harmless, and the person cannot feel it occurring.
- sometimes a lymphoscintogram is performed (but this is not routine)
If there is doubt about a diagnosis of lymphoedema, a test called a lymphoscintogram may be ordered by Lymphoedema Therapist or doctor. This involves a small injection of a detectable dye between the webspace of the limbs in question. For example, it may be injected between the first and second toes. A machine will then measure if there is any delay in the lymphatic system in collecting and moving this dye from the webspace through the limb to be cleared by the lymphatic system.
Lymphoedema Therapists will take a thorough medical history and may make a request to your GP for further tests/investigations to exclude other potential causes of swelling.
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