DOLF Scientists Test New Scanner for Measuring Leg Swelling due to Filariasis

In March of 2017, DOLF researchers, Ramakrishna Rao and Philip Budge traveled to Galle, Sri Lanka to test a new portable scanner with the potential to revolutionize the measurement of limbs affected by lymphatic filariasis (LF). The scanner, which is produced by the Atlanta-based startup, LymphaTech, uses infrared scanning technology similar to that found in Microsoft’s X-Box Kinect, to create highly accurate virtual 3D reconstructions of solid objects. After meeting the scanner’s creators at national meeting in the fall, Doctors Budge and Rao wanted to see if this simple, portable scanner, which consists of an infrared sensor mounted on an iPad, could provide precise and accurate limb measurements for patients afflicted by LF. So, they worked with Dr. Channa Yahathugoda, who directs a filariasis clinic in Galle, Sri Lanka, to design a study comparing the scanner to the gold-standards for measuring LF-affected limbs: tape measurements and water displacement.

What they found was highly encouraging. Working together with a team of local physicians in Dr. Yahathugoda’s clinic, they found that the LymphaTech scanner could provide measurements of leg volume and multiple circumferences that were as precise as those obtained by tape measure or water displacement, but in only a fraction of the time, and with much less inconvenience to the patients. This can be a huge step forward for those who study and treat patients with lymphedema, the type of leg swelling caused by LF, because many of these patients have such severe disease that they have difficulty placing their limbs in a water tank to measure water displacement. In addition, affected legs often have open wound that make it more difficult to take tape measurements. Many patients often have great difficulty traveling from their homes to the clinic to have their measurements taken. This new tool should make it possible to take extremely accurate limb measurements in the patients’ homes or villages without cumbersome equipment. The ability to rapidly get these measurements will make it much easier to monitor patients with lymphedema, particularly in clinical trials of therapies for lymphedema, which are sorely needed. In fact, after sharing the data from their study with international collaborators, the scanner has been added as a measurement tool in an upcoming multi-site, international research study designed to determine whether the antibiotic, doxycycline, can reduce the severity lymphedema in patients with filariasis.

The Sri Lanka scanner study will soon be published in the American Journal Tropical Medicine and Hygeine.

Read the complete article in Washington University in St. Louis – The Record

A collaborator using the LymphaTech scanner to scan the legs of a patient in Galle, Sri Lanka
One example of the 3D model created by the LymphaTech scanner