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Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2018 Mar;55(3):406-416. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2017.11.025. Epub 2018 Jan 9.

A Summation Analysis of Compliance and Complications of Compression Hosiery for Patients with Chronic Venous Disease or Post-thrombotic Syndrome.

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Faculty of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
Academic Section of Vascular Surgery, Imperial College London, London, UK.
Department of Surgery & Cancer, Imperial College London, London, UK.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; Academic Section of Vascular Surgery, Imperial College London, London, UK; Department of Vascular Surgery, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. Electronic address:



Compression stockings are commonly prescribed for patients with a range of venous disorders, but are difficult to don and uncomfortable to wear. This study aimed to investigate compliance and complications of compression stockings in patients with chronic venous disease (CVD) and post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS).


A literature search of the following databases was carried out: MEDLINE (via PubMed), EMBASE (via OvidSP, 1974 to present), and CINAHL (via EBSCOhost). Studies evaluating the use of compression stockings in patients with CVD (CEAP C2-C5) or for the prevention or treatment of PTS were included. After scrutinising full text articles, compliance with compression and associated complications were assessed. Compliance rates were compared based on study type and degree of compression. Good compliance was defined as patients wearing compression stockings for >50% of the time.


From an initial search result of 4303 articles, 58 clinical studies (37 randomised trials and 21 prospective studies) were selected. A total of 10,245 limbs were included, with compression ranging from 15 to 40 mmHg (not stated in 12 studies) and a median follow-up of 12 months (range 1-60 months). In 19 cohorts, compliance was not assessed and in a further nine, compliance was poorly specified. Overall, good compliance with compression was reported for 5371 out of 8104 (66.2%) patients. The mean compliance, weighted by study size, appeared to be greater for compression ≤25 mmHg (77%) versus > 25 mmHg (65%) and greater in the randomised studies (74%) than in prospective observational studies (64%). Complications of stockings were not mentioned in 43 out of 62 cohorts reviewed. Where complications were considered, skin irritation was a common event.


In published trials, good compliance with compression is reported in around two thirds of patients, with inferior compliance in those given higher degrees of compression. Further studies are required to identify predictors of non-compliance, to help inform the clinical management of these patients. Complications of compression are not documented in many studies and should be given more consideration in the future.


Chronic venous disease; Compliance; Compression stockings; Post-thrombotic syndrome; Venous insufficiency

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