Compression stockings for preventing the postthrombotic syndrome in patients with deep vein thrombosis Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to address benefits and harms of using elastic compression stockings after lower-extremity deep vein thrombosis. METHODS: We searched 7 electronic databases through January 15, 2015, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs)/quasi-randomized trials reporting on elastic compression stocking efficacy on postthrombotic syndrome incidence, recurrent venous thromboembolism, mortality, and acute pain after deep vein thrombosis. Two reviewers independently screened records, extracted data, assessed risk of bias, and assessed confidence in effect estimates using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation methodology. We applied random-effects meta-analysis models. RESULTS: We included 5 RCTs (n = 1418) reporting on postthrombotic syndrome. The hazard ratio (HR) for postthrombotic syndrome with elastic compression stockings was 0.69 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.47-1.02). We have very low confidence in this estimate due to heterogeneity and inclusion of unblinded studies at high risk of bias. Excluding high risk of bias studies, a single large RCT at low risk of bias provided moderate-quality evidence of no effect on postthrombotic syndrome (HR 1.00; 95% CI, 0.81-1.24). Moderate-quality evidence including all 5 studies suggests no effect of elastic compression stockings on recurrent venous thromboembolism (relative risk [RR] 0.88; 95% CI, 0.63-1.24) or mortality (RR 1.00; 95% CI, 0.73-1.37, 5 studies). Moderate-quality evidence from one large RCT does not suggest effect on acute pain after deep vein thrombosis. CONCLUSIONS: The highest-quality evidence available suggests no effect of elastic compression stockings on postthrombotic syndrome or pain relief, from a single large RCT. However, results for preventing postthrombotic syndrome differ substantially across studies, and future guideline updates should reflect uncertainty about treatment effects. Elastic compression stockings are unlikely to prevent death or recurrent venous thromboembolism.


  • Berntsen, Christopher Friis
  • Kristiansen, Annette
  • Akl, Elie
  • Sandset, Per Morten
  • Jacobsen, Eva-Marie
  • Guyatt, Gordon
  • Vandvik, Per Olav

publication date

  • 2016