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Intermittent pneumatic compression therapy in posttraumatic lower limb edema: Computed tomography and clinical measurements

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      Abstract

      The purpose of our study was to assess the amount of posttraumatic lower limb edema and its distribution between subcutaneous and subfascial compartments before and after intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) therapy in patients with fractures of the lower leg immobilized with a cast for six to 12 weeks. Computed tomography (CT) was used as an objective method of measuring the compartmental distribution of edema. Sixteen patients with a mean age of 37 years (range 19 to 64 years) were investigated by clinical measurement of the leg circumference and by CT at the ankle joint and at three equidistant (10cm) levels above it. The unaffected leg served as a control for the evaluation of the amount of edema and density of the tissues. Edema was found primarily in subcutaneous tissue. The IPC treatment decreased relative edema from 23% to 15.9% (p < 0.01) as measured by CT, and from 23.5% to 13.2% as measured clinically. The density of muscle tissue increased 9% (p < 0.01) and that of subcutaneous tissue decreased 5.6% (p < 0.05). The IPC treatment influenced both the amount of edema and the density of tissue compartments.

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