Objectives: To assess the need to wear compression stockings for 4 weeks after inversion stripping of the great saphenous vein (GSV) from the groin to the level of the knee.
Design: Randomised controlled trial.
Patients: A total of 104 consecutive patients with primary complete incompetence of the GSV treated by inversion stripping of the GSV.
Methods: Postoperatively treated limbs underwent elastic bandaging for 3 days. Volunteers were randomised to wear a compression stocking for additional 4 weeks (intervention group) or no compression stocking (control group). The primary outcome was limb oedema as assessed by photoelectric leg volume measurement. Secondary outcome measures were pain scores, postoperative complications and return to full work.
Results: The control leg volume was 3657ml (standard deviation, SD 687) preoperatively and 3640ml (SD 540) 4 weeks postoperatively (non significant, N.S.). The stocking leg volume was 3629ml (SD 540) preoperatively, falling to 3534ml (SD 543) (P<0.01) 4 weeks postoperatively. The difference in leg volume between both the groups was not statistically significant. Patients in the control group resumed work earlier (control 11 days, stocking 15 days, P=0.02, Mann-Whitney test). No difference was observed in the number and type of complication and in pain scores during the 4-week follow-up period.
Conclusions: Wearing an elastic compression stocking has no additional benefit following elastic bandaging for 3 days in postoperative care after stripping of the great saphenous vein as assessed by control of limb oedema, pain, complications and return to work.