Measuring Lymphedema-Related Volume Changes   References & Resources

Accumulation of excess fluid in tissues results from an imbalance between the rate
of fluid entry into the interstitium and the rate of removal of that fluid via resorption
and lymphatic drainage.  

Normal Fluid Balance

If lymphatic drainage function becomes depressed to a point where it can not
maintain the balance, fluid begins to accumulate in the tissue. When fluid
accumulation increases to a certain amount, the increase in volume of the body
part that has experienced the fluid accumulation becomes measureable by various
methods. However, there can be a considerable increase in tissue fluid before
volume changes can be detected. When protein also accumulates, usually due to
lymphatic dysfunction, edema becomes lymphedema.

Fluid Overload

Limb Volume Measurement Methods

Water Displacement

If the body part involved is a limb (or part of a limb), water displacement
methods may be used to directly measure volume and its change.

Girth (circumference) Measurements
Measuring limb circumferences and then using these to calculate either the
whole volume of the limb or segments of the limb is the most common method
used clinically and in most research studies. The girth measurements can be
made manually using a suitable tape measure or electronically using
sophisticated opteoelectronic apparatus.

Limb Volume Measurement References and Resources  

Published Articles
Assessment of limb volume by manual and automated measurement in patients with edema or lymphedema
Advances in Wound Care 2000;113:272-276
Limb volume estimates based on limb elliptical vs. circular cross section models. 
Lymphology 2003;31(3):140-143
 Foot volume estimates based on a geometric algorithm in comparison to water displacement.
Lymphology 2005;38(1):20-27
Hand volume estimates based on a geometric algorithm in comparison to water displacement.
Lymphology 2006;39(2):95-103
Measurement decisions for clinical assessment of limb volume changes in patients with bilateral and unilateral limb edema.
Physical Therapy 
2007 (October) 87:(10) 1362-1368

Software that provides a easy way to translate girth measurements into limb volumes and track and document  limb volume changes

Opteoelctronic (inrared) apparatus to automatically determine limb girth at multiple sites and obtain limb volumes