What is stemmer sign? Definition, Positive, Negative, Lymphedema

What is stemmer sign?

Lymphedema can be identified through a physical examination finding called the Stemmer sign. The procedure entails making an attempt to pinch and lift a skinfold near the base of the second toe, or at the dorsum of the foot or hand. If the examiner is unable to pinch the skin, this is considered a positive Stemmer sign, resulting in a lymphedema conclusion. The Stemmer sign is regarded as a good diagnostic indicator for identifying lymphedema. It was first documented by Kaposi and then again by Stemmer.

Because of its reliability and sensitivity, the Stemmer sign is a valuable method of assessing patients in the wound clinic for primary and secondary lymphedema of the lower extremities. It has a sensitivity of 92% in identifying patients with lymphedema and a specificity of 57% in ruling out people without lymphedema. The Stemmer sign is useful for more than just diagnosing edema; it may also be used to assess the severity of lymphedema.


The Stemmer sign is a physical examination technique used to assess lymphedema, a condition where extra fluid builds up in tissues as a result of damaged or obstructed lymphatic vessels. The test entails attempting to lift a skin fold near the base of the second toe or in the center of the foot's dorsal surface. If the skin is non-pitting and cannot of being lifted, this implies fibrosis, or a stiffening of the tissues, which is a common observation in late lymphedema stages. In contrast, if the skin can be uplifted and returns to its normal state when the pressure subsides (i.e., pitting), this indicates that the edema is still in its earliest stages.

What is stemmer sign Definition, Positive, Negative, Lymphedema


Lymphedema can be reliably diagnosed with the presence of a positive Stemmer sign. The test involves pinching and lifting a skinfold near the base of the middle finger or second toe. A patient with a positive Stemmer sign has lymphedema and needs to see a specialist for additional testing and treatment. Lymphedema can have other origins, like malignant tumors, thus a negative result is not conclusive.


In the early stages of edema, the skin fold may be raised and pinched, indicating that the swelling is mild. If the Stemmer test comes out negative, it means the lymphatic system is operating correctly and no scarring or hardening of the tissues has occurred.


Lymphedema, characterized by the abnormal buildup of lymphatic fluid that causes swelling and tissue damage, can be diagnosed by the Stemmer sign, a method of physical examination. The Stemmer sign is only one of several diagnostic tests used to evaluate lymphedema; therefore, to establish an accurate diagnosis and estimate the severity of the problem, it should be performed in conjunction with other diagnostic procedures, such as measurement of limb circumference, evaluation of skin changes, and evaluation of lymphatic function.

What is stemmer sign? Definition, Positive, Negative, Lymphedema What is stemmer sign? Definition, Positive, Negative, Lymphedema Reviewed by Simon Albert on February 24, 2023 Rating: 5
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