[Complex decongestive therapy]

Hautarzt. 2015 Nov;66(11):810-8. doi: 10.1007/s00105-015-3674-1.
[Article in German]


The amount of physical pressure plays an important role in complex decongestive therapy (CDT). As a function of pressure, microcirculation takes place between blood vessels and tissue. As part of the total lymphatic system, lymphatic vessels transport the lymphatic load from the interstitial space to the blood stream. The lymphatic vessel system, characterized by specific anatomical conditions like initial lymphatic vessels, precollectors, collectors, and lymphatic strains, is the therapeutic target of complex decongestive therapy. Components of CDT include manual lymphatic drainage, compression therapy, decongestive kinesitherapy, and good skin care, which increase the transport capacity of the lymphatic vessel system. Currently, CDT is acknowledged as the main conservative treatment of lymphedema of primary and secondary genesis, lipolymphedema, and phlebolymphedema. In clinical practice, we are increasingly confronted with edema of multifactorial genesis requiring a critical discussion and stocktaking of comprehensive clinical findings in terms of the indication for CDT. Therapeutic success depends on a joint application of all CDT components and patient compliance. To an increasing extent, medical research tries to combine successfully CDT with adjunct treatment options.

Keywords: Adjunct procedures; Compression; Lymphatic vessels; Manual lymphatic drainage; Movement therapy.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Compression Bandages*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Lymphedema / diagnosis
  • Lymphedema / therapy*
  • Massage / methods
  • Motion Therapy, Continuous Passive / methods*
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome