Using BIS to detect Lymphoedema
Associate Professor Ward has utilised bioimpedence spectroscopy (BIS) to develop an accurate yet inexpensive tool for early detection of lymphoedema, the accumulation of excessive amounts of protein-rich fluid resulting in swelling of one or more regions of the body, due to a mechanical failure of the lymphatic system.
He has worked tirelessly for more than two decades to commercialise the device, leading to benefits to patients (improving quality of life and minimising long-term consequences) and significantly reducing treatment costs.
In the early 1990s, Associate Professor Ward and then post-graduate student Dr Bruce Cornish developed a new technique, BIS, where a low-voltage electrical current is passed through the tissue and the resulting resistance determined providing measurements of body water. The importance of this development is that it enabled for the first time the direct, accurate and sensitive assessment of lymphoedema.
There are numerous medical conditions where it is necessary to accurately measure body composition and fluid balance, including lymphoedema, venous insufficiency, dehydration, cachexia (muscle wasting), dialysis, drug dosing and fluid balance in burns patients.
Associate Professor Ward has played a dominant role in the development of the lymphoedema detection device, which is now a commercial reality with widespread acceptance in the medical community, both nationally and internationally.
From the time the IP was licensed to lmpediMed, a global company which develops bioimpedance devices, he has been closely involved with the development of these devices. He continues to be an inventor and is working on lmpediMed’s next generation devices.
“He has been key in fostering linkages between the University of Queensland, ImpediMed and companies in the food industry to assess the impact nutrition has on body composition - an initiative that may change the way foods are marketed in the future”.