The value of sonographic microvascular imaging in the diagnosis of lipedema

Resource type
The value of sonographic microvascular imaging in the diagnosis of lipedema
BACKGROUND: Lipedema is a chronic disease marked by symmetric enlargement of painful nodular and fibrotic adipose tissue, predominantly affecting the limbs. Since there is no specific test or biomarker for this condition, years often pass before the diagnosis of lipedema is established for the first time, thereby causing psychosocial distress, including depression, eating disorders, and social isolation. Over the last few years several advanced Doppler-based technologies have been developed to visualize slow flow blood vessels and superficial microvascular architecture undetectable by traditional color Doppler flow imaging (CDFI). OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the superficial microvascular anatomy in lipedema patients compared to healthy controls and investigate the clinical significance of the Ultra Micro Angiography (UMA) technology in the diagnosis of lipedema. This new technique may contribute to reduce the diagnostic delay and, eventually, establish and guide treatment strategies toward a better therapeutic outcome in lipedema patients. METHODS: 25 patients with lipedema and ten healthy controls with no history of lipedema were included in this study. All ultrasound examinations were performed on a novel high-performance ultrasound system (Resona R9/Mindray) using CDFI and the UMA technique. RESULTS: In all of the patients, Ultra Micro Angiography achieved the excellent visualization of microvascular structures, revealing that most lipedema patients showed grade 3 (n = 13) or grade 2 (n = 8) flow. UMA was superior to CDFI for depicting the microvascular structures. CONCLUSIONS: Here we show that UMA imaging characterizes the subcutaneous microvasculature with an unprecedented accuracy. The method has the advantage of being sensitive to small, slow-flowing vessels. This allows for the assessment of the course of vessels and vascular pathologies in great detail. Thus, UMA as a non-invasive diagnostic method can improve diagnostic accuracy in lipedema.
Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation
Journal Abbr
Clin Hemorheol Microcirc
Library Catalog
Kempa, S., Tessmann, V., Prantl, L., Schmid, S., Müller, M., Jung, E.-M., & Tews, H. C. (2023). The value of sonographic microvascular imaging in the diagnosis of lipedema. Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation.