Background: Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a common and burdensome complication of deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Previous trials suggesting benefit of elastic compression stockings (ECS) to prevent PTS were small, single-centre studies without placebo control. We aimed to assess the efficacy of ECS, compared with placebo stockings, for the prevention of PTS.
Methods: We did a multicentre randomised placebo-controlled trial of active versus placebo ECS used for 2 years to prevent PTS after a first proximal DVT in centres in Canada and the USA. Patients were randomly assigned to study groups with a web-based randomisation system. Patients presenting with a first symptomatic, proximal DVT were potentially eligible to participate. They were excluded if the use of compression stockings was contraindicated, they had an expected lifespan of less than 6 months, geographical inaccessibility precluded return for follow-up visits, they were unable to apply stockings, or they received thrombolytic therapy for the initial treatment of acute DVT. The primary outcome was PTS diagnosed at 6 months or later using Ginsberg's criteria (leg pain and swelling of ≥1 month duration). We used a modified intention to treat Cox regression analysis, supplemented by a prespecified per-protocol analysis of patients who reported frequent use of their allocated treatment. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00143598, and Current Controlled Trials, number ISRCTN71334751.
Findings: From 2004 to 2010, 410 patients were randomly assigned to receive active ECS and 396 placebo ECS. The cumulative incidence of PTS was 14·2% in active ECS versus 12·7% in placebo ECS (hazard ratio adjusted for centre 1·13, 95% CI 0·73-1·76; p=0·58). Results were similar in a prespecified per-protocol analysis of patients who reported frequent use of stockings.
Interpretation: ECS did not prevent PTS after a first proximal DVT, hence our findings do not support routine wearing of ECS after DVT.
Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
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