Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Lymphedema Index (L-Dex)

Most women with breast cancer have had lymph node dissection, surgery and radiation as part of the treatment process.  After surgery, some women suffer from lymphedema because the normal lymphatic system has been disrupted.  Lymphedema can develop months or even years afterwards.   See the link for more information and causes:

When I was in Boston for the Komen Race, they had a health expo set up the evening before the race.  There was a group demonstrating the L-Dex technology, which can measure a woman's risk of developing lymphedema.  I was curious about this, even though I am statistically at very low risk according to my breast surgeon.  I let them test me, which was an interesting process. 

Someone has a picture of me on the table having this done.  They hooked up leads to both arms and my right foot (opposite of my BC side) and mea­sure­ments were made by pass­ing a harm­less elec­tri­cal sig­nal of very low strength from the L-Dex device through my arm. Both arms were mea­sured and the whole pro­ce­dure took only min­utes to complete.

It works like this:  The elec­tri­cal sig­nal trav­els through the fluid sur­round­ing the cells which make up the mus­cle and tis­sue of the arm. The amount of this fluid increases as lym­phedema devel­ops.  Increased fluid means the elec­tri­cal sig­nal will travel more eas­ily through the arm. An L-Dex device com­pares how eas­ily the elec­tri­cal sig­nal trav­els in the unaf­fected ver­sus the affected (or at-risk) arms and gen­er­ates an L-Dex value from this comparison.

My score was a 4, which was well within normal range and indicates I am not at high risk.  If I had scored above 10, I would want to work with a lymphedema therapist and take precautions such as wearing a compression sleeve when flying.  Preventing lymphedema is easier than treating it once it occurs.

For more information, go to



  1. I'm happy that your risk is low. My SIL has lymphedema and wears a compression sleeve quite often. She never complains about it, but it sure looks very uncomfortable.

  2. Michelle - thank you very much for posting the information about our product, L-Dex. It is so very important to get this information out to breast cancer patients. I hope many who read your story will ask their doctor about having this procedure done. Wishing you all good things with your heath and recovery! Kay Meckes @