Which tests are performed in the workup of lymphedema?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Analysis of blood, urine, or tissue is not needed to make the diagnosis of lymphedema. Such tests, however, help to define the underlying causes of lower extremity edema when the etiology is unclear.

Liver function, blood urea nitrogen (BUN)/creatinine levels, and urinalysis results should be checked if a renal or hepatic etiology is suspected. Specific markers should be checked if a neoplasm is suspected. The patient’s complete blood count (CBC) with differential should be checked if an infectious etiology is being considered.

Detection of early mild arm lymphedema may be facilitated by using cutaneous palpation in combination with determining the tissue dielectric constant, which evaluates local tissue water in the skin and upper subcutis, measured from fixed measurement sites. [2]

Imaging is not necessary to make the diagnosis, but it can be used to confirm it, to assess the extent of involvement, and to determine therapeutic intervention.

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