ST. LOUISIn a study of 31 breast cancer patients with chronic lymphedema
who had failed other treatment methods, 27 showed significant improvement
with use of the Reid Sleeve, a custom-designed
pattern of soft polymer ridges that apply varying degrees of pressure,
Diane Radford, MD, of Washington University, said in a poster presentation.
"Most of our patients had had multiple episodes of cellulitis while
using either an elastic stocking or a compression pump device," Dr.
Radford said. The study patients were advised to wear the custom-fitted
Reid Sleeve for eight hours a night while sleeping. Of the four patients
who did not improve, Dr. Radford said, two were noncompliant.
The 27 patients who showed improvement had a 3 cm average decrease in
circumference at 10 cm above and below the elbow. In addition, the majority
of patients reported improvements in quality of life with use of the Reid
Although the study was not controlled and follow-up is relatively short
(mean, six weeks), Dr. Radford found the results very encouraging and suggested
that a controlled trial, possibly with a crossover design, should be done.
Tony Reid, MD, a medical oncologist at Stanford University and the inventor
of the Reid Sleeve, was also on hand to discuss the new device.
He made the first Sleeve about three years ago for a patient who was
spending much of her time on a mechanical pump. The device worked so well
for her that she talked about it in her support group, and demand for the
Sleeve began to grow. "About a year ago, we started a lymphedema clinic
at Stanford because of the number of patients seeking treatment, "Dr.
He described a trial at Stanford, similar to Dr. Radford's study, that
involved 30 patients who had been on multiple therapies for severe lymphedema
for an average of eight to 10 years. Of those, 26 showed significant improvement
with the Reid Sleeve.
Dr. Reid said that the Sleeve is custom made for each patient, with
Velcro straps to adjust the pressure, based on readings from a small compression
gauge. "We think it is critical to be able to adjust the pressure,
since it is a fairly narrow range that provides the right pressure for
a patient," he said.
He pointed out that lymphedema is "not a disease that will ever
really go away," but with the Sleeve, he said, "patients have
improved to the point where they don't rely on it on a daily basis anymore.
The patient who has been on it the longest now uses it maybe once or twice
He also noted that lymphedema can be more than just "unsightly
and cumbersome." In patients who develop cellulitis, it can also be
a serious medical problem.
One patient, prior to using the Sleeve, had recurrent hospitalizations
for infections, including several stays in the ICU because of sepsis from
these infections. "Since starting on the Sleeve a year ago,"
he said, "she has gone from a very enlarged, edematous red limb to
one that now looks almost normal, and she hasn't had a single infection."
For more about the Reid Sleeve, contact www.noblemed.com on the
or call 1-800-29-EDEMA.