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Phlebology. 2016 Apr;31(3):160-9. doi: 10.1177/0268355515585437. Epub 2015 May 5.

Does prescription of medical compression prevent development of post-thrombotic syndrome after proximal deep venous thrombosis?

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Vascular Surgery, Lyon, France
Vascular Surgery, Helsingborg, Sweden.



The aim of this review is to try to explain the controversy by critical analysis of previously published randomized controlled trials on the value of elastic compression stockings in the treatment of acute proximal deep vein thrombosis in prevention of post-thrombotic syndrome, which forms the scientific basis for our present management.


A research was made through Medline and Embase databases to identify relevant original articles, not abstracts, with the following keywords: post-thrombotic syndrome, deep venous thrombosis, venous thromboembolism, compression stockings, prevention and compliance.


We identified five randomized controlled trials (RCTs) before the SOX trial including 798 patients with acute proximal deep vein thrombosis. Brandjes (1997): at two years' follow-up, elastic compression stockings reduced post-thrombotic syndrome by 50%;Ginsberg (2001): no difference in post-thrombotic syndrome with or without elastic compression stockings after more than two years' follow-up;Partsch (2004): elastic compression stockings with routine above knee and early ambulation reduced the incidence and severity of post-thrombotic syndrome after two years' follow-up;Prandoni (2004) showed significantly less post-thrombotic syndrome after elastic compression stockings for two years with a five-year follow-up;Aschwanden (2008) showed no difference with elastic compression stockings after three years' follow-up.


Prescription of elastic compression stockings for the prevention of post-thrombotic syndrome is now in doubt. Immediate compression after diagnosis of acute deep vein thrombosis to prevent swelling and reduce pain, permitting early ambulation in combination with adequate anticoagulation has proven benefit, although a secondary analysis of the SOX trial refutes this belief. Continued long-term compression treatment is questioned. Two major questions remain:Is the lack of positive outcome on the development of post-thrombotic syndrome after proximal deep vein thrombosis due to the fact that there were a few patients with iliofemoral extension in the quoted randomized controlled trials who may benefit from prolonged medical compression treatment?Compliance is the major issue, and the two randomized controlled trials with excellent control of compliance showed significant reduction in the rate of post-thrombotic syndrome, but we know that in daily practice the adherence is closer to Kahn's data.


Post-thrombotic syndrome; compliance; compression stockings; deep vein thrombosis; venous syndromes

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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