• lymphedema;
  • limb volume;
  • laser scanning



Determining the prevalence and treatment success of surgical lymphedema requires accurate and reproducible measurement. A new method of measurement of limb volume is described.


A series of inanimate objects of known and unknown volume was measured using digital laser scanning and water displacement. A similar comparison was made with 10 human volunteers. Digital scanning was evaluated by comparison to the established method of water displacement, then to itself to determine reproducibility of measurement.


(1) Objects of known volume: Laser scanning accurately measured the calculated volume but water displacement became less accurate as the size of the object increased. (2) Objects of unknown volume: As average volume increased, there was an increasing bias of underestimation of volume by the water displacement method. The coefficient of reproducibility of water displacement was 83.44 ml. In contrast, the reproducibility of the digital scanning method was 19.0 ml. (3) Human data: The mean difference between water displacement volume and laser scanning volume was 151.7 ml (SD ± 189.5). The coefficient of reproducibility of water displacement was 450.8 ml whereas for laser scanning it was 174 ml.


Laser scanning is an innovative method of measuring tissue volume that combines precision and reproducibility and may have clinical utility for measuring lymphedema. J. Surg. Oncol. 2007;96:381–388. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.