Patients with lymphedema saw a nearly 80% reduction in their cellulitis episodes just by using an advanced pneumatic compression device at home, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology.
The reduction in episodes also led to a 37% reduction in lymphedema-related healthcare costs for study participants.
The device sequentially inflates over areas of the body affected by lymphedema to facilitate the movement of excess fluid from the limb back to the cardiovascular system.
"This could be a game-changer in the area of lymphedema care," said Sheila Ridner, PhD, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Nashville, Tennessee. "Up to 10 million people in the United States are living and oftentimes suffering with symptoms of lymphedema. The idea that a home advanced pneumatic compression device can provide relief, decrease the number of cellulitis episodes and save money is an important new option for patients."
Lymphedema cannot be cured and is typically managed through combined therapies of manual lymph drainage, multilayer bandaging, decongestive exercise, skin care, and long-term self-management.
The current study analysed 718 patients with lymphedema who received care at sites across the United States over a 5-year period (2007-2013), and evaluated event rates and costs for a 12-month period prior to and a 12-month period after treatment.
After receiving the device, patients experienced a reduction in outpatient hospital and physical therapy visits, which significantly lowered their healthcare costs.
Among study participants with cancer, cellulitis episodes were reduced from 21.1% to just 4.5% -- a 79% reduction in the rate of cellulitis episodes. Among non-cancer participants, cellulitis episodes were reduced from 28.8% to 7.3% -- a 75% reduction in the rate of cellulitis episodes.
Lymphedema-related physical therapy and outpatient visits were also both reduced, resulting in a 37% decrease in lymphedema-related costs, excluding medical equipment, per patient among those with cancer, and a 36% decrease in costs for the non-cancer cohort.