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Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue Edema in Lipedema Revealed by Noninvasive 3T MR Lymphangiography

Rachelle Crescenzi, Paula M C Donahue, Maria Garza, Niral J Patel, Chelsea Lee, Kelsey Guerreso, Greg Hall, Yu Luo, Sheau-Chiann Chen, Karen L Herbst, Michael Pridmore, Aaron W Aday, Joshua A Beckman, Manus J Donahue


Background: Lipedema exhibits excessive lower-extremity subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) deposition, which is frequently misidentified as obesity until lymphedema presents. MR lymphangiography may have relevance to distinguish lipedema from obesity or lymphedema. Hypothesis: Hyperintensity profiles on 3T MR lymphangiography can identify distinct features consistent with SAT edema in participants with lipedema. Study type: Prospective cross-sectional study. Subjects: Participants (48 females, matched for age [mean = 44.8 years]) with lipedema (n = 14), lipedema with lymphedema (LWL, n = 12), cancer treatment-related lymphedema (lymphedema, n = 8), and controls without these conditions (n = 14). Field strength/sequence: 3T MR lymphangiography (nontracer 3D turbo-spin-echo). Assessment: Review of lymphangiograms in lower extremities by three radiologists was performed independently. Spatial patterns of hyperintense signal within the SAT were scored for extravascular (focal, diffuse, or not apparent) and vascular (linear, dilated, or not apparent) image features. Statistical tests: Interreader reliability was computed using Fleiss Kappa. Fisher's exact test was used to evaluate the proportion of image features between study groups. Multinomial logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between image features and study groups. The odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of SAT extravascular and vascular features was reported in groups compared to lipedema. The threshold of statistical significance was P < 0.05. Results: Reliable agreement was demonstrated between three independent, blinded reviewers (P < 0.001). The frequency of SAT hyperintensities in participants with lipedema (36% focal, 36% diffuse), LWL (42% focal, 33% diffuse), lymphedema (62% focal, 38% diffuse), and controls (43% focal, 0% diffuse) was significantly distinct. Compared with lipedema, SAT hyperintensities were less frequent in controls (focal: OR = 0.63, CI = 0.11-3.41; diffuse: OR = 0.05, CI = 0.00-1.27), similar in LWL (focal: OR = 1.29, CI = 0.19-8.89; diffuse: OR = 1.05, CI = 0.15-7.61), and more frequent in lymphedema (focal: OR = 9.00, CI = 0.30-274.12; diffuse: OR = 5.73, CI = 0.18-186.84). Data conclusion: Noninvasive MR lymphangiography identifies distinct signal patterns indicating SAT edema and lymphatic load in participants with lipedema. Evidence level: 1 TECHNICAL EFFICACY: Stage 1.


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