Although doctors have been prescribing support hose for acute stroke patients for years, and millions of stroke patients have worn them, a large British study now shows that they do not help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) post-stroke, and that they may even cause skin damage on the areas they cover.
The British medical guidelines for non-ambulatory stroke patients included prescribing the support hose to prevent deep vein thrombosis. Apparently, this guideline was extrapolated from a few small studies conducted on patients who were not stroke victims, on the assumption that if the socks prevented DVT in the study patients, they would also prevent DVT for stroke patients.
The current research conducted by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, and published in today's online version of Lancet, included 2,518 patients admitted to hospitals in 64 centers in the UK, Italy, and Australia with the diagnosis of stroke, who were not ambulatory. They were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups, and all patients undertook compression Doppler ultrasound of both legs at 7-10 days after stroke.
The experimental group, those who wore the thigh-high graduated compression stockings (GCS), showed no statistical difference to that of the control group in the second Doppler ultrasound tests taken after 25-30 days after stroke; both groups showed the same risk for DVT. Skin breaks, ulcers, blisters, and skin necrosis, however, were significantly
more common in patients who wore the stockings (5 percent) than in those allocated to
avoid their use (1 percent).
In a report issued by Bloomberg News this morning, Covidien LTD., which donated the GCS to the study, said it would follow up with the researchers to see how the stockings were used in the study.
Lancet via Bloomberg News
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