Objective: To study the influence of compression on the haemodynamics of the deep venous system in pregnancy.
Design: A prospective, observational study.
Setting: The phlebological unit of the department of dermatology at a university hospital.
Population: Fifteen pregnant women with no previous signs of chronic venous insufficiency.
Methods: Parameters of the venous pump function were assessed by strain-gauge plethysmography. Blood flow velocity, flow volume and vessel diameter in the superficial femoral vein were measured by duplex sonography. All examinations were performed with and without applied compression stockings (25-32 mmHg) at two different stages of gestation and after delivery. In addition, subjective symptoms were graded.
Results: Venous pump function improved and refilling time lengthened significantly when compression was used during gestation and postnatally. Duplex sonography showed an increase in blood flow velocity and flow volume in the superficial femoral vein with applied compression; the vessel diameter increased slightly. Subjective symptoms of the leg, graded on an arbitrary scale, were reduced by regular compression therapy.
Conclusion: Our results indicate that compression improves the clinical symptoms of venous congestion and the venous haemodynamics of the legs during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. Thus, the regular use of compression during pregnancy and the puerperium may reduce the incidence of thromboembolic events.