Efficacy of Complete Decongestive Therapy

Updated: May 27, 2021

How effective is this approach to treating the debilitating diseases of the lymphatic system? What about pneumatic pumps that medicare often will cover? .

The pneumatic pump doesn't usually show results clinically because it simply squeezes the limb removing the water but leaves the protein behind. This does not reduce fibrosis. It also can require many hours a day and may traumatize residual functioning lymph vessels. Pneumatic pumps also can harm by turning up the intensity to get results thus further damaging lymph tissues.

Treatments for CDT are effective because the goal is to reduce fluid and fibrosis, restore mobility, improve aesthetics, hence improving quality of life and independence. We use a two phase treatment procedure to ensure proper improvement of symptoms to a maintenance phase where you will use what you have learned to manage symptoms on your own. Incorporating massage, compression, exercise, skin care, and self care instruction will physically improve lymphatic flow by various means while keeping you active and empowering you in taking control of your journey!

Results of CDT in literature:

299 Patients - 149 Arm lymphedema (3 primary, 146 secondary)

  • 150 LE (93 primary, 57 secondary)

  • Age ranged 3-84 years

Phase I --> txt. time averaged 15.7 days (one or two txt.)

Volume reduction --> 59.1% in Arms, 67.7% in Legs

Infections reduced from 1.10 infections/pt./year to 0.65 (infections reduced by 50%)

Follow-up average 9 months; 86% maintained initial reduction

(D. Ko, R. Lerner, B.Cosimi; Arch surg.. 1998; 133:452-458)

119 Consecutive Patients*

  • 56 patients with unilateral arm, 38 patients with unilateral leg

Volume reduction --> 62.6% arm, 68.6% leg

Reduction after 36 months --> 63.8% arm, 62.7% leg

*Bi-lateral lymphedema not represented in percent volume reductions

(M. Boris, S. Weindorf, B. Lasinski; Oncology 1997)

MLD mixed with strengthening and range of motion restoring exercise has shown to be effective with women undergoing breast cancer treatments

(Oliveira, Mariana Maia Freire, 5 Jan. 2018, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0189176)

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