Compression stockings prophylaxis of emergent varicose veins in pregnancy: a prospective randomised controlled study

Swiss Med Wkly. 2001 Dec 1;131(45-46):659-62. doi: 10.4414/smw.2001.09805.


Questions under study: To determine the efficacy of compression stockings in preventing emergent varicose veins in pregnancy.

Methods: A prospective randomised controlled study in the outpatient department of the University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, including women with uncomplicated pregnancies <12 weeks at outset of study. A no-stockings control group (n = 15) was compared with two treatment groups: group 1 (n = 12) wore compression class I stockings (18-21 mm Hg) on the left leg and class II stockings (25-32 mm Hg) on the right; in group 2 (n = 15), the compression classes were reversed. Stockings were worn from study entry to term. Endpoints were emergence and worsening of superficial varicose veins, long saphenous vein reflux at the sapheno-femoral junction, and leg symptoms (pain, discomfort, cramps) during pregnancy.

Results: Both classes of compression stockings failed to prevent the emergence of superficial varicose veins. However, long saphenous vein reflux at the sapheno-femoral junction was observed in the third trimester in only 1/27 treated women vs. 4/15 controls (p = 0.047); in addition, more treated women reported improved leg symptoms (7/27 vs. 0/15 controls; p = 0.045). Emergent varicose changes, however, did not differ significantly (7/14 controls vs. 5/12 in group 1 and 8/14 in group 2; 3x3 table, Fisher's exact = 0.94).

Conclusions: Although compression stockings do not prevent the emergence of gestational varicose veins, they significantly decrease the incidence of long saphenous vein reflux at the sapheno-femoral junction and improve leg symptoms. Our results also suggest that superficial varices and deep venous insufficiency may have a different aetiology.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bandages / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / prevention & control*
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicose Veins / prevention & control*