Graduated compression stockings prevent postoperative deep vein thrombosis

Graduated compression stockings prevent postoperative deep vein thrombosis

Brian McAvoy
Clinical question

How effective are graduated compression stockings in preventing deep vein thrombosis in various groups of hospitalised patients?

Bottom line

There was high‐quality evidence that GCSs were effective in reducing the risk of DVT in hospitalised patients who have undergone general and orthopaedic surgery, with or without other methods of background thromboprophylaxis, where clinically appropriate. There was moderate‐quality evidence that GCSs probably reduced the risk of proximal DVT and low‐quality evidence that GCSs might reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism. Duration of follow‐up ranged from 7–14 days.


Nine trials compared wearing stockings with no stockings, and 11 compared stockings plus another method with that method alone. The other methods used were dextran 70, aspirin, heparin and mechanical sequential compression. There was little evidence to assess the effectiveness of GCSs in diminishing the risk of DVT in medical patients.


DVT can be prevented with the use of compression or drugs. Drugs can cause bleeding, which is a particular concern in surgical patients. GCSs help prevent thrombosis in the legs by applying varying amounts of pressure to different parts of the leg.

Cochrane Systematic Review

Sachdeva A et al. Graduated compression stockings for prevention of deep vein thrombosis during a hospital stay. Cochrane Reviews, 2018, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD001484.DOI: 10.1002/14651858. CD001484.pub4. This review contains 20 studies involving 1681 participants and 1172 individual legs.