Head and neck lymphedema management: Evaluation of a therapy program Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:The purpose of this pilot study was to examine a therapeutic intervention for head and neck lymphedema. The 22-week intervention involved therapist-led care and participant self-management. Effectiveness was evaluated using a previously described lymphedema assessment tool, the Assessment of Lymphedema of the Head and Neck (ALOHA) to detect change over the course of the 22 weeks of treatment, and before and after a single treatment session. METHODS:A prospective observational pilot study was conducted with a cohort of 10 participants assessed. Measurements of size (tape measurements) and water content (tissue dielectric constant [TDC]) were used, per the ALOHA protocol. Participants received 13 lymphedema therapy treatments at reducing frequencies over 22 weeks and daily self-management. RESULTS:There was an overall significant reduction in lower neck circumference (F [2.15,19.35] = 7.11; P = .004), upper neck circumference (F [5,45] = 7.27; P < .001) and TDC (F (5,45) = 8.92; P < .001) over time. There were no significant differences over the course of treatment for mean ear-to-ear measurements or before and after a single session of treatment. CONCLUSION:This pilot study found a reduction in head and neck lymphedema over the 22-week lymphedema treatment course. This intervention may be successful in reducing head and neck lymphedema; however, further studies are needed to investigate these findings in a larger sample with the use of a control group to negate improvements from healing over time.

publication date

  • 2018