Superior Clinical, Quality of Life, Functional, and Health Economic Outcomes with Pneumatic Compression Therapy for Lymphedema
Peer Reviewed Scientific Publication
Pneumatic compression therapy is one of several options for the management of lymphedema. The lack of clarity around clinical outcomes, quality of life, cost of care, and its proper application, as a function of lymphedema complexity, limit its use in clinical practice. This is compounded by difficulties associated with insurance approval and uncertainty about the role of this modality in the treatment algorithm. The purpose of this study is to elucidate the healthcare economics and value of pneumatic compression therapy for lymphedema.
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All patients who underwent treatment for lymphedema at a single institution were followed prospectively over a 2-year period. Patient demographics, comorbidities, treatment modality, and treatment efficacy were determined. Direct costs over the 2-year period, inclusive of hospitalization and device costs, SF-36 quality of life, and leg lymphedema complexity score (LLCS), were measured.
A total of 128 patients were enrolled over a period of 3 years for a total of 232 extremities treated for secondary lymphedema. Pneumatic compression therapy was utilized for all patients and led to a 28% decrease in absolute limb volume (P < 0.001), decrease in body mass index (BMI) (P < 0.001), significant improvement in SF-36 quality of life in 7 out of 8 domains (P < 0.001), and a significant improvement in LLCS (P < 0.001) at 1 year. A subsequent decrease in hospitalization for lymphedema-associated complications saved over $3,200 per patient per year.
Pneumatic compression therapy leads to improved clinical outcomes, quality of life, and functional status for clinically significant lymphedema. Significant per capita direct cost savings, a beneficial impact on pay for performance measures, and a reduction in lymphedema related complications suggest that earlier adoption of this treatment modality may offer a superior value proposition to patients, physicians, hospitals, and the healthcare system.