Reduction of Postoperative Swelling with a Negative Pressure Treatment – A Prospective Study

Saul, D., Fischer, A.C., Wolfgang L. & Dresing, K. 2020. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery 28(2), 1-5. May 2020. doi:10.1177/2309499020929166.

Purpose: Perioperative swelling and edema are the main factors that influence the time to definitive operative care, healing rate, as well as postoperative infection rate. Device-based negative pressure treatment is a new  method to reduce post-traumatic and postoperative swelling of the upper extremities. The objective of this study was to evaluate a new negative pressure treatment with LymphaTouch® (Helsinki, Finland) to reduce perioperative swelling in upper extremity injuries.

Methods: We analyzed 45 patients (26 female and 19 male) after operative treatment of upper extremity injuries. A predefined treatment algorithm of 30 min using LymphaTouch® was performed on the patients every day for five consecutive days. Swelling was measured according to the neutral-zero method with six points of measurement.

Results: A total of 16 patients underwent an operation on their upper arm. An average of 3.5 measurements was performed per patient, with the start of therapy at a mean of 5.13 days after the operation. All of the measured circumferences except the elbow and 10 cm below the elbow were reduced from day 0 to 3. The percent reduction of swelling (relative to day 0) was 10.36%, 11.35%, 17.34%, and 3.25% for days 1–4, respectively. The reatest reduction of circumference was obtained in the metacarpus (51.6%) and wrist (33.1%).

Conclusion: The LymphaTouch® system and a 30-min treatment program can reduce postoperative swelling of the upper arm, wrist, and hand on the first 5 days after surgery. The ease of learning and self-applicability of LymphaTouch® makes it interesting for further controlled randomized trials.