Compression Garments When Flying

Compression Garments When Flying

PEP Topic 
Lymphedema
Description 

A compression garment is a knit two-way stretch sleeve or stocking that is worn to assist in controlling swelling and to aid in moving lymph fluid from the affected area. It should be worn only while the patient is awake and active and should be custom fitted for each patient. Experts recommend that patients with a history of lymphedema wear correctly fitting compression garments when flying, as changes in cabin pressure may lead to an exacerbation of lymphedema.

Expert Opinion

Guideline/Expert Opinion

Casley-Smith, J.R. & Casley-Smith, J.R. (1996). Lymphedema initiated by aircraft flights. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 67(1), 52–56.

Print

Purpose & Patient Population:

To describe reported incidence and triggering factors related to development of lymphedema in patients with lymphedema

Type of Resource/Evidence-Based Process:

Questionnaires were sent to 1,020 patients with lymphedema. The names were taken from the Lymphedema Association of Australia. The questionnaire asked about many aspects of their disease. One of the questions was “What triggered your lymphedema?" Answer choices were infection, insect bite, plane flight, burn, other, or unknown.

Results Provided in the Reference:

Questionnaires were sent to 1,020 patients with lymphedema. A total of 749 responded to the survey, and 531 of these answered the question about what triggered the lymphedema. Responses were as follows: 41 had the condition since birth, 163 had postmastectomy lymphedemas, 136 had primary and 191 had secondary leg lymphedemas. Of those who did not have the condition since birth (n = 490), 27 claimed that it started during an aircraft flight (15 legs and 12 arms). In addition, flying was the identified cause of existing lymphedema to permanently worsen in 23 arms and 44 legs.

Graham, P.H. (2002). Compression prophylaxis may increase the potential for flight-associated lymphoedema after breast cancer treatment. Breast, 11 (1), 66–71.

doi: 10.1054%2Fbrst.2001.0370
Print

Purpose & Patient Population:

Researchers conducted a survey to elicit information that would aid in the evaluation of the potential connection between flying and lymphedema. The study reported on 287 women with relapse-free breast cancer with known pathology/treatment and prospectively measured arm circumferences. Patient and treatment factors were age, type of surgery, number of nodes sampled and number positive, and radiotherapy technique.

Type of Resource/Evidence-Based Process:

Subjects were surveyed by phone and mail regarding flight history, precautions taken, and incidences of arm swelling subsequent to flying.


Menu