Effects of intermittent pneumatic compression on lower limb lymphedema in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A pilot randomized controlled trial

Alessandro de Sire, Maria Teresa Inzitari, Lucrezia Moggio, Monica Pinto, Giustino de Sire, Marta Supervia, Annalisa Petraroli, Mariangela Rubino, Delia Carbotti, Elena Succurro, Antonio Ammendolia, Francesco Andreozzi

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Background and Objectives: Diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM) is a chronic disease associated with fluid accumulation in the interstitial tissue. Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) plays a role in reducing lymphoedema, like intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC). By the present pilot study, we aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a synergistic treatment with MLD and IPC in reducing lower limb lymphedema in T2DM patients. Materials and Methods: Adults with a clinical diagnosis of T2DM and lower limb lymphedema (stage II–IV) were recruited from July to December 2020. Study participants were randomized into two groups: experimental group, undergoing a 1-month rehabilitative program consisting of MLD and IPC (with a compression of 60 to 80 mmHg); control group, undergoing MLD and a sham IPC (with compression of <30 mmHg). The primary outcome was the lower limb lymphedema reduction, assessed by the circumferential method (CM). Secondary outcomes were: passive range of motion (pROM) of hip, knee, and ankle; quality of life; laboratory exams as fasting plasma glucose and HbA1c. At baseline (T0) and at the end of the 1-month rehabilitative treatment (T1), all the outcome measures were assessed, except for the Hb1Ac evaluated after three months. Results: Out of 66 T2DM patients recruited, only 30 respected the eligibility criteria and were randomly allocated into 2 groups: experimental group (n = 15; mean age: 54.2 ± 4.9 years) and control group (n = 15; mean age: 54.0 ± 5.5 years). At the intra-group analysis, the experimental group showed a statistically significant improvement of all outcome measures (p < 0.05). The between-group analysis showed a statistically significant improvement in pROM of the hip, knee, ankle, EQ-VAS, and EQ5D3L index at T1. Conclusions: A multimodal approach consisting of IPC and MLD showed to play a role in reducing lower limb lymphedema, with an increase of pROM and HRQoL. Since these are preliminary data, further studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1018
JournalMedicina (Lithuania)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Intermittent pneumatic compression
  • Lymphodrainage
  • Lymphoedema
  • Manual lymphatic drainage
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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