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Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS)

If you are a cancer survivor, you are at risk for lymphedema. This swelling of a body part, usually arms or legs, can happen after radiation or removal of your lymph nodes. It can happen right after surgery or many years later.

Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) is a test that can help your health care provider watch for signs of lymphedema. By finding lymphedema early, you'll be able to manage your symptoms and live the life you love.

What it is

Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) is a test that can help find lymphedema early, when it is easier to manage.

It uses an electrical signal to measure the amount of fluid in your arms and legs. The electrical signal is low in strength and painless. An increase in fluid may mean that you have early signs of lymphedema.

What to expect

The test will take about 5 minutes.

The first test is known as a baseline. This will be done before you have surgery. These measurements will show what is normal for you.

After surgery, you will have measurements taken every six months during your follow-up visits. This will help your health care provider watch for signs of lymphedema.

Before the test

BIS is a safe test but there are certain things that could interfere with it. Before your scheduled test, tell your health care provider if you:

  • are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
  • have any implanted device or foreign object in your body

During the test

You will be asked to remove any tight-fitting clothing. You will be given a hospital gown to wear, if needed.

  • You will need to lie still and on your back on an exam table.
  • Adhesive patches (electrodes) will be placed on your hands and feet.
  • An electrical signal will pass through the fluid in your arms and legs.

After the test

  • Your health care provider will talk about the results of your test with you.
  • You may return to your normal activities.

After surgery, your surgeon will refer you to see a lymphedema therapist with Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute's cancer rehabilitation program.

At this visit, you will learn about lymphedema and how to do a range of motion exercises. 

Good to know

BIS is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, some insurance providers do not cover the cost for this test.

If you choose to have this test done, the amount you will have to pay will be based on:

  • what your health plan covers
  • your copay (a fixed amount you will pay for the test)
  • your coinsurance (your share of the costs of the test)
  • your deductible (any other out-of-pocket costs before your insurance provider pays for any part of the test)

Please call your insurance provider to find out if this test is covered by your health plan.

If your insurance provider does not cover the test, Allina Health will discount your bill to $137 if you meet the following criteria.

  • You have met your benefit plan's out-of-pocket maximum.
  • You have no coinsurance.
  • You have no deductibles (or you have met your total for the year).
  • You have no copays.

Please note: If your insurance provider covers some of the cost for this exam and you have not met your out-of-pocket costs, your bill cannot be limited to $137.