Test-Retest Reliability of a Protocol for Assessment of Local Tissue Water in the Head and Neck Area.


Background: Lymphedema measurement is vital to select appropriate treatment and monitor its progress. Quantifying lymphedema in the head and neck area is challenging. The use of tissue dielectric constant (TDC) measurements has shown promising results in other body areas. This study aims to determine the test-retest reliability of a TDC measurement protocol developed for the head and neck area. Methods and Results: A detailed measurement protocol, including eight measurement points per side, was developed. Subsequently, the reliability of the protocol was tested in a sample of healthy participants (n = 50, 28 males). Using the LymphScanner (Delfin, Finland), participants were subjected to two measurement sessions. Each measurement point was measured three times per session. Test-retest reliability for each point was evaluated using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) and standard errors of measurement (SEMs). Using the average of three measurements, reliability was good to excellent for all points (ICCs 0.81-0.95), with small measurement errors (SEMs 1.51-2.86). The reliability of a single measurement was moderate to excellent for all measurement points (ICCs 0.58-0.87), with larger, but still small, measurement errors (SEMs 1.65-3.39). When using single measurements, the lowest ICCs were found for the temporal (left 0.73 and right 0.67) and submandibular (left 0.58 and right 0.77) locations. Conclusion: Measurements with the LymphScanner, taken according to the developed protocol, are reliable in healthy participants. We recommend using the average of three measurements to optimize reliability. The protocol is fit for further testing in patient populations and for determining normal values in a larger scale study with healthy subjects.

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Lymphatic research and biology
  • Publication date 09-10-2023

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