A landmark study found the use of an advanced pneumatic compression device (APCD) reduced the episodes of skin infections that occur annually in patients with lymphedema by nearly 80 percent. Rates of cellulitis were lowered from 21 percent to 4.5 percent in the individuals with lymphedema due to cancer, and from 28.8 percent to 7.3 percent in individuals whose lymphedema was not due to cancer. After receiving the device, patients reduced their utilization of inpatient and outpatient clinic visits rapidly lowering healthcare costs.
Lymphedema affects more than five million Americans and occurs in response to cancer, cancer treatment, infections, and from inherited causes. There is no cure and symptoms persist for a lifetime.
The research was conducted at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and the Medical School and in collaboration with Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and Stanford University School of Medicine.
The study was published in JAMA Dermatology.
“It is a national goal, shared by patients, businesses, payers, and government, that we identify new treatments that preserve health, but that do so at a lower cost,” said Dr. Pinar Karaca-Mandic, lead author and associate professor at the School of Public Health. “It is essential that we collect data from real world settings and assess the effectiveness of devices.”
The study also found the APCD:
The authors also noted that their analysis considered only direct healthcare costs, which represent only a fraction of the overall costs related to the lymphedema burden. “For example, when one takes into account the additional costs due to productivity loss, caretaker costs and other non-monetary costs, the availability of an effective home treatment that improves physical functioning would likely have a much larger impact than the one we could measure,” said Dr. Karaca-Mandic.