Faster Healing and a Lower Rate of Recurrence of Venous Ulcers Treated With Intermittent Pneumatic Compression: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Oscar M Alvarez, Lee Markowitz, Rachelle Parker, Martin E Wendelken
Eplasty 2020, 20: e6
Objective: Fifty-two subjects with chronic venous insufficiency and hard-to-heal lower leg ulceration (>1-year-old and >20-cm2 surface area) were treated with either intermittent, gradient, pneumatic compression (n = 27) plus standard compression therapy or compression therapy alone (control). Methods: Compression therapy consisted of a nonadherent primary wound dressing plus a 4-layer compression bandage (n = 25). The mean age and size of the ulcers were 1.4 years and 31 cm2 , respectively, and did not differ significantly between groups. Intermittent pneumatic compression was performed using a 4-chamber pneumatic leg sleeve and gradient, sequential pump. All pumps were calibrated to a pressure setting of 50 mm Hg on each subject, and treatments were for 1 hour twice daily. Evaluations were performed weekly to measure edema, local pain, granulation, and wound healing. Results: The median time to wound closure by 9 months was 141 days for the intermittent pneumatic compression-treated group and 211 days for the control group ( P = .031). The rate of healing was 0.8 ± 0.4 mm/d for the control group and 2.1 ± 0.8 mm/d for the group treated with intermittent pneumatic compression ( P < .05). When compared with subjects treated with standard care, the group treated with intermittent pneumatic compression reported less pain at each evaluation point for the first 6 weeks of the trial. At weeks 1, 2, and 3, the visual analog pain scores were significantly lower for the intermittent pneumatic compression-treated group ( P < .05). Conclusion: These results suggest that intermittent pneumatic compression is a valuable adjunct to compression therapy in the management of large or painful venous ulcers.

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