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  • BACKGROUND: Diagnosing lipedema remains a challenge due to its heterogeneous presentation, co-existing diseases, and the lack of objective diagnostic imaging. OBJECTIVE: This systematic review aims to outline the currently available diagnostic imaging methods to characterize lipedema in the legs along with their diagnostic performance. METHODS: PubMed, Embase, Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science were searched. The quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies (QUADAS) tool was used for quality assessment. RESULTS: Thirty-two studies describing a total of 1154 patients with lipedema were included for final analysis. Features for lipedema have been defined using ultrasound (increased subcutaneous adipose tissue), lymphoscintigraphy (slowing of the lymphatic flow and a frequent asymmetry between the lower extremities), computed tomography (symmetrical bilateral soft tissue enlargement without either skin thickening or subcutaneous edema), magnetic resonance imaging (increased subcutaneous adipose tissue), MR lymphangiography (enlarged lymphatic vessels up to a diameter of 2 mm), and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (fat mass in the legs adjusted for body mass index (BMI) ≥ 0.46 or fat mass in the legs adjusted for total fat mass ≥ 0.384). CONCLUSION: The diagnostic performance of currently available imaging modalities for assessing lipedema is limited. Prospective studies are needed to evaluate and compare the diagnostic performance of each imaging modality. Imaging techniques focusing on the pathogenesis of the disease are needed.

Last update from database: 5/27/24, 7:02 AM (UTC)

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