Influence of different cuff lengths on the efficacy of intermittent pneumatic compression devices

Patients admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) are at risk of developing venous thrombosis due to their sedentary disposition. Venous thrombosis can lead to pulmonary embolism, which is a potentially fatal condition. The most commonly used method for prevention of thrombosis is administration of anticoagulant medication. In cases where anticoagulants are inappropriate, intermittent pneumatic compression devices may be used. These devices are connected to cuffs, which can be calf length, or calf- and thigh-length. The potential differences in the effect of different cuff lengths in the prevention of thrombosis in the ICU remain unclear.


There are different types of cuffs that can be connected to intermittent pneumatic compression devices. Are calf-length cuffs sufficient in preventing thrombosis in patients in the ICU, or should cuffs cover both the calf and thigh to provide the desirable effect?

We searched three databases for systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs). We identified 26 systematic reviews of which two were potentially relevant and 318 RCTs of which seven were potentially relevant. These articles were read in full text by one person. None of the articles were considered relevant to the question. The articles were excluded due to coverage of the wrong patient group or wrong outcome measures.

SBU Enquiry Service consists of systematic literature searches to highlight studies that can address questions received by the SBU Enquiry Service from Swedish healthcare or social service providers. Relevant references are compiled by an SBU staff member, in consultation with an external expert when needed. The quality of the studies identified is not systematically reviewed.

Published: 10/8/2018
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Report no: ut201833
Registration no: SBU 2018/164

Project group

Sally Saad, Rebecka Björnfors and Christel Hellberg at SBU.

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