Study: Compression Stockings for Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in Airline Passengers

a pair of compression stockings isolated on a white background

A recent study review performed by a group of researchers from the Cochrane Vascular Group updated findings of a review first published in 2006 about the possibility that air travel can increase the risks of developing deep vein thrombosis. The new review studied the possibility that compression stockings can reduce the risks.

Compression stockings are often called “flight socks” when worn during an airplane flight. During the past few years, there has been an increased interest as to whether wearing these stockings can reduce the risk of DVT.

The study included 11 trials with 2,906 participants. Another nine trials with another 2,637 participants where also studied. During the trials, about half of the study participants were randomly selected to wear compression stockings during flights that lasted a minimum of five hours. None of the participating passengers developed symptoms of DVT, and no serious medical events such as pulmonary embolisms were noted.

Study and Results

During the study, each passenger was assessed after the flight to determine if any problems with circulation in the legs occurred. It was found that wearing compression garments had the results of a reduction in symptomless DVT among the group who were wearing the stockings as compared to those who did not.

It was found that the study subjects who wore the stockings suffered less swelling in their legs, and fewer passenger developed superficial thrombosis. Additionally, researchers stated that the stockings were well tolerated by the wearers.

The evidence provided by the study shows that overall those wearing compression stockings develop fewer symptomless DVT occurrences, along with less leg swelling. The study stated that there is moderate level evidence that superficial vein thrombosis may be reduced.

The study also stated that assessing the effects of compression stockings on pulmonary embolism, symptomatic DVT, or death could not be formed because no such events happened during the study. Researchers stated that random trials to include these effects would need to involve a very large number of subjects.

Overall, the findings outline the fact that most people have a very low chance of developing DVT symptoms through airline travel, even if they are in higher risk categories. The study basically has “indirect” evidence that compression stockings may provide some protection.

If you would like more information on the effect of compression garments on vein disease and issues, or have any questions or concerns about your vein health, please call us to schedule a consultation.   http://www.cochrane.org/CD004002/PVD_compression-stockings-preventing-deep-vein-thrombosis-dvt-airline-passengers