Intermittent pneumatic compression after varicose vein surgery

Published:March 02, 2021DOI:



      Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) is an established treatment option to remove tissue fluid from patients with lymphedema and chronic venous disease. The effects of IPC applied directly after varicose vein surgery performed with high volumes of tumescent local anesthesia have not been investigated. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the use of postoperative IPC concerning its effects on the leg volume and patient comfort after surgery.


      We performed an investigator-initiated, single-center, open-label randomized controlled trial. A total of 186 patients indicated for saphenofemoral junction ligation and great saphenous vein or anterior accessory saphenous vein stripping or great saphenous vein redo surgery were randomly assigned 1:1 to the intervention or control group. The patients in the intervention group were treated with IPC at 40 mm Hg for 45 minutes directly after surgery. The outcome measures were the leg volume changes calculated using an optical three-dimensional scanning system (primary objective), quality of life (QoL; Freiburg Life Quality Assessment for chronic venous disease, short form), pain, and extent of ecchymosis with follow-up examinations on days 1 and 7 after surgery.


      The patients in both groups had comparable mean leg volume reductions from baseline to day 1 (IPC group, 58.8 mL; control group, 37.4 mL; P = .967) and to day 7 (63.1 mL and 57.0 mL, respectively; P = .546). We also did not observe significant differences between the two groups in QoL and pain. The patients in the IPC group had developed larger areas of ecchymosis compared with the control group (16% vs 13.3% of leg surface, respectively; P = .046), with a tendency toward an increase in pain at 7 days after surgery compared with no IPC application.


      The present randomized controlled trial was designed to evaluate the decongestive effects of a single postoperative session of IPC and its effect on QoL, pain, and ecchymosis in patients who had undergone varicose vein surgery under tumescent local anesthesia. Because no evidence for a benefit from IPC could be found in the present study and increased ecchymosis was found, its standard use after varicose vein surgery cannot be recommended.

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