Effect of Compression Devices on Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis Among Adult Trauma Patients: A Systematic Review

Dimens Crit Care Nurs. Sep-Oct 2015;34(5):289-300. doi: 10.1097/DCC.0000000000000127.


Background: Trauma is the leading cause of death in Americans up to 44 years old each year. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a significant condition occurring in trauma, and prophylaxis is essential to the appropriate management of trauma patients. The incidence of DVT varies in trauma patients, depending on patients' risk factors, modality of prophylaxis, and methods of detection. However, compression devices and arteriovenous (A-V) foot pumps prophylaxis are recommended in trauma patients, but the efficacy and optimal use of it is not well documented in the literature.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to review the literature on the effect of compression devices in preventing DVT among adult trauma patients.

Methods: We searched through PubMed, CINAHL, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials for eligible studies published from 1990 until June 2014. Reviewers identified all randomized controlled trials that satisfied the study criteria, and the quality of included studies was assessed by Cochrane risk of bias tool.

Results: Five randomized controlled trials were included with a total of 1072 patients. Sequential compression devices significantly reduced the incidence of DVT in trauma patients. Also, foot pumps were more effective in reducing incidence of DVT compared with sequential compression devices.

Discussion: Sequential compression devices and foot pumps reduced the incidence of DVT in trauma patients. However, the evidence is limited to a small sample size and did not take into account other confounding variables that may affect the incidence of DVT in trauma patients. Future randomized controlled trials with larger probability samples to investigate the optimal use of mechanical prophylaxis in trauma patients are needed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Devices*
  • Venous Thrombosis / prevention & control*
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*