A clinical comparison of pneumatic compression devices: the basis for selection

J Vasc Surg. 2001 Sep;34(3):459-63; discussion 463-4. doi: 10.1067/mva.2001.117884.


Purpose: The five pneumatic compression devices (PCDs) that are marketed provide mechanical protection from deep venous thrombosis (DVT). They differ with respect to patterns of compression and the length of the sleeve. Evidence linking differences to clinical outcomes is lacking. Our purpose was twofold: to evaluate each of the marketed PCDs with respect to effectiveness, compliance, and patient and nursing satisfaction and to determine whether there is a clinical basis for the selection of one device over another.

Methods: Each of the marketed devices was used exclusively for a 4-week period. Patients participated in an evaluation including venous duplex ultrasound scan, DVT risk assessment, and device evaluation. Vascular laboratory records were used to document DVT. Compliance was measured by meters installed on all pumps. A ranking matrix was stratified by compression pattern: rapid graduated sequential compression, graduated compression, and intermittent compression, and each device was rated by patients and nurses.

Results: The PCDs were used in 1350 cases with a DVT rate of 3.5% ranging from 2% to 9.8% depending on the method of compression. Patients with DVT were older (58 vs 54 years), had better compliance (67% vs 50%), and had more compression days (11 vs 7.2). When thigh-length sleeves were used, a greater proportion of DVT occurred in the proximal segments (71%) as compared with the number of proximal DVT when the calf-length devices were used (52%; P =.21). Devices W, X, and Y had comparable rates of DVT, which were lower than those for V and Z. Compression device W, [correction] with calf and thigh sleeves, achieved the best overall ranking largely because of high scores for patient and nurse satisfaction.

Conclusion: Our data appear at odds with commonly held beliefs. We were unable to show a difference in DVT incidence based on the length of the device or the method of compression. Randomized studies are needed to confirm our findings and evaluate hypotheses derived from this study.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bandages*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Venous Thrombosis / epidemiology
  • Venous Thrombosis / prevention & control*