Bayer Pharma AG

Essence of this Article

Although mechanical prophylaxis methods have been shown to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), they have been studied much less intensively than the major pharmacological treatment options. Mechanical methods of prophylaxis include graduated compression stockings, intermittent pneumatic compression and venous foot pumps. Mechanical prophylaxis should be used primarily in patients who are at high risk of bleeding, or as an adjunct to anticoagulant therapy.

Other options for venous thromboembolism prevention

Although mechanical prophylaxis methods have been shown to reduce the risk of DVT, they have been studied much less intensively than the major pharmacological treatment options:54

  • Mechanical methods of prophylaxis include graduated compression stockings and various intermittent compression devices, all of which increase venous outflow or reduce stasis within the leg veins
    • Graduated compression stockings have been shown to effectively reduce symptomatic DVT; however, their use is also associated with an increase in skin complications65
  • Mechanical prophylaxis should be used primarily in patients who are at high risk of bleeding, or as an adjunct to anticoagulant therapy

Mechanical methods for VTE prophylaxis

Method Function Supporting data
Graduated compression stockings Provide circumferential pressure that gradually decreases from the ankle to the thigh to promote venous blood flow Studies in hip surgery,113 general surgery114 and stroke115
Intermittent pneumatic compression Leggings repeatedly inflated and deflated by a pneumatic pump with the goal of mimicking natural calf muscle contractions that promote venous return Meta-analysis of published studies114
Venous foot pump Imitate the physiological pumping action of weight-bearing on the venous plexus of the sole of the foot to simulate the effect of normal walking and increase venous flow Limited
VTE, venous thromboembolism.

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