Intermittent pneumatic compression: physiologic and clinical basis to improve management of venous leg ulcers

J Vasc Surg. 2011 Apr;53(4):1121-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2010.08.059. Epub 2010 Nov 3.


Venous leg ulcers (VLUs) are a significant health problem that afflicts 1% of the population at some point during their lifetime. Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) is widely used to prevent deep venous thrombosis. However, IPC seems to have application to a broader base of circulatory diseases. The intermittent nature of pulsatile external compression produces beneficial physiologic changes, which include hematologic, hemodynamic, and endothelial effects, which should promote healing of VLUs. Clinical studies of the management of VLUs show that IPC increases overall healing and accelerates the rate of healing, leading to current guideline recommendations for care of patients with VLUs. Proper prescription of IPC to improve the management of patients with VLUs requires further definition. It seems that application of IPC in combination with sustained graduated compression improves outcome in patients with the most advanced venous disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Devices*
  • Leg Ulcer / physiopathology
  • Leg Ulcer / therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing*