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UQ's Dr Leigh Ward
UQ's Dr Leigh Ward

More cancer patients will now have access to early lymphedema detection technology, with a product developed by publicly listed medical device company Impedimed Limited (ASX:IMP) reaching a major reimbursement milestone.

ImpediMed’s L-Dex® devices are the first FDA-cleared medical devices using bioimpedance spectroscopy to assess lymphedema. They have been developed to aid doctors in the clinical assessment of lymphedema by measuring extracellular fluid differences in the arms or legs of women and in the legs of men.

The devices produce a lymphedema index (or L-Dex) value that helps doctors to determine if the patient is building up excess extracellular fluid in their at-risk limb. The test takes only minutes to perform. It is painless and gives an immediate result.

About 1 in 5 people will have lymphedema of the arm after breast cancer treatment. It happens because cancer, or the effects of treatment, block the normal fluid drainage channels of the lymphatic system.

Following a recent valuation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), physicians and hospitals in the US will be able to seek reimbursement for the use of ImpediMed’s L-Dex® device, which provides early detection of lymphedema in cancer survivors - a market expected to be worth over $350 million per annum in the US alone.

L-Dex® is based on bioimpedance spectroscopy technology developed by Dr Leigh Ward from The University of Queensland's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences. Dr Ward was recently awarded a prestigious Clunies Ross Award from the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering for his achievements in developing the BIS technology.

"The technology is used for estimating body composition and can be applied to nutritional support in HIV-AIDS, lymphoedema, perinatal medicine and animal production," Dr Ward said.

Trials of the L-Dex® device have successfully been conducted in the US, UK and France, and a large international trial will deliver interim results by 2017.

In 2013, ImpediMed entered into a three-year exclusive agency agreement with 3M to market the L-Dex® products through its sales representatives in Australia and New Zealand. 3M bandages are a method of treatment for lymphedema as it pushes excess fluid back out of the arm or other effected area. The agreement means that ImpediMed and 3M are working together with practitioners on early detection, treatment and accessibility.

UniQuest was a founder of ImpediMed in 2000. The company is now recognised as a world leader in the development and distribution of medical devices employing bioimpedance spectroscopy and bioimpedance analysis technology, with 25 staff and offices in Brisbane, Australia and San Diego in the USA.