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Mayo Clin Proc. 1999 May;74(5):478-80.

Acute pulmonary edema associated with placement of waist-high, custom-fit compression stockings.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Compression stockings are a safe, noninvasive treatment for patients with symptomatic orthostatic hypotension due to autonomic nervous system dysfunction. In this report, we describe a 75-year-old man who had development of pulmonary edema approximately 45 minutes after placement of compression stockings on the first postoperative day following a carotid endarterectomy. No sudden changes were noted on an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram or in the cardiac isoenzymes associated with the pulmonary edema. The patient had a history of coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus-induced autonomic nervous system dysfunction, and recent surgery near the carotid baroreceptor. All these factors may have limited his ability to compensate for a rapid increase in central blood volume. The temporal relationship of the patient's respiratory distress to the placement of the compression stockings, in the absence of laboratory findings of primary cardiac dysfunction, make stocking-related fluid shift the likely precipitating event in the formation of acute pulmonary edema. This case suggests that compression stockings should be used with caution in patients with limited cardiac reserve.

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