Manual lymphatic drainage with or without fluoroscopy guidance did not substantially improve the effect of decongestive lymphatic therapy in people with breast cancer-related lymphoedema (EFforT-BCRL trial): a multicentre randomised trial.

Journal: Journal Of Physiotherapy
Treatment Used: Decongestive Lymphatic Therapy (DLT) with Fluoroscopy-Guided Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) vs. Traditional Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
Number of Patients: 194
Published:
MediFind Summary

Summary: This study compared decongestive lymphatic therapy (therapy designed to mobilize and decongest the lymph system; DLT) with fluoroscopy (form of X-ray imaging guidance)-guided manual lymphatic drainage (uses light touch to move excess lymph and fluid out of the tissues and back into the lymphatic vessels; MLD) versus traditional manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) for the treatment of breast cancer-related lymphedema (build-up of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under the skin caused by breast cancer treatment; BCRL).

Conclusion: In patients with chronic breast cancer-related lymphedema (build-up of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under the skin caused by breast cancer treatment), manual lymphatic drainage (uses light touch to move excess lymph and fluid out of the tissues and back into the lymphatic vessels) did not provide additional benefit when added to other components of decongestive lymphatic therapy (therapy designed to mobilize and decongest the lymph system).

Abstract

Objective: When added to decongestive lymphatic therapy (DLT), what is the effect of fluoroscopy-guided manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) versus traditional MLD or placebo MLD for the treatment of breast cancer-related lymphoedema (BCRL)? Methods: Multicentre, three-arm, randomised controlled trial with concealed allocation, intention-to-treat analysis and blinding of assessors and participants. Methods: At five hospitals in Belgium, 194 participants with unilateral chronic BCRL were recruited. Methods: All participants received standard DLT (education, skin care, compression therapy and exercises). Participants were randomised to also receive fluoroscopy-guided MLD (n = 65), traditional MLD (n = 64) or placebo MLD (n = 65). Participants received 14 sessions of physiotherapy during the 3-week intensive phase and 17 sessions during the 6-month maintenance phase. Participants performed self-management on the other days. Methods: All outcomes were measured: at baseline; after the intensive phase; after 1, 3 and 6 months of maintenance phase; and after 6 months of follow-up. The primary outcomes were reduction in excess volume of the arm/hand and accumulation of excess volume at the shoulder/trunk, with the end of the intensive phase as the primary endpoint. Secondary outcomes included daily functioning, quality of life, erysipelas and satisfaction. Results: Excess lymphoedema volume decreased after 3 weeks of intensive treatment in each group: 5.3 percentage points of percent excessive volume (representing a relative reduction of 23.3%) in the fluoroscopy-guided MLD group, 5.2% (relative reduction 20.9%) in the traditional MLD group and 5.4% (relative reduction 24.8%) in the placebo MLD group. The effect of fluoroscopy-guided MLD was very similar to traditional MLD (between-group difference 0.0 percentage points, 95% CI -2.0 to 2.1) and placebo MLD (-0.2 percentage points, 95% CI -2.1 to 1.8). Fluid accumulated at the shoulder/trunk in all groups. The average accumulation with fluoroscopy-guided MLD was negligibly less than with traditional MLD (-3.6 percentage points, 95% CI -6.4 to -0.8) and placebo MLD (-2.4 percentage points, 95% CI -5.2 to 0.4). The secondary outcomes also showed no clinically important between-group differences. Conclusions: In patients with chronic BCRL, MLD did not provide clinically important additional benefit when added to other components of DLT.

Background: NCT02609724.

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