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Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2006 Nov;129(1):3-8. Epub 2006 May 4.

Interventions for leg edema and varicosities in pregnancy. What evidence?

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Medicine Private Hospital and Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.


Leg oedema from venous insufficiency is not dangerous but it can cause women symptoms such as pain, feelings of heaviness, night cramps and paraesthesiae. Leg oedema can be a sign of pre-eclampsia when associated with raised blood pressure or proteinuria. The objective of this review was to assess the effects of treatment to relieve the symptoms associated with varicosity in pregnancy and to reduce leg oedema. We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group trials register in October 2004 for randomised trials of any form of treatment for varicosity and or leg oedema in pregnancy. Trial quality was assessed and data were extracted. Four trials of three different treatments were included. In one trial, women given rutoside capsules in the last 3 months of pregnancy noted an improvement in symptoms compared with placebo (relative risk 0.54 95% CI 0.32, 0.89). They had a decrease in ankle circumference at 36 weeks' gestation after 8 weeks of treatment, while women given placebo had a small increase. In one trial, women with ankle oedema had a small non-significant reduction in lower leg volume when treated with external pneumatic intermittent compression for 30 min. In another trial compression stockings prophylactically reduced the emergence of leg symptoms but not venous varicosities (relative risk 0.74 95% CI 0.59, 0.93). Lymphatic reflexology was studied in too few women to draw conclusions. In conclusions, rutosides appear to relieve symptoms of venous insufficiency in late pregnancy. However, it is not known if the drug is safe in pregnancy. External pneumatic compression appears to reduce ankle swelling and compression stockings reduce leg symptoms but not varicose veins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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