Compression stockings do not appear to reduce the risk of developing DVT among stroke sufferers, UK research suggests.
The findings call into question current NICE guidance for venous thromboembolism which recommends stockings for stroke patients.
It is estimated that around 10-20 per cent of stroke sufferers will go on to develop DVT.
The CLOTS1 study, presented last week at the European Stroke Conference in Stockholm, looked at 2,518 patients who were randomly assigned to receive either thigh-length graduated support stockings and routine care or routine care alone.
The patients, with an average age of 76 years, had all been admitted to hospital within one week of an acute stroke and were immobile.
They were given an ultrasound of both legs to detect DVT after seven days of treatment and again after 25-30 days of treatment.
Overall, the researchers found that DVT occurred in 10 per cent of patients who were wearing the stockings and in 10.5 per cent of patients who were not wearing the stockings.
Patients who were wearing the stockings were more likely to suffer from skin ulcers and blisters.
Lead researcher Professor Martin Dennis, from the University of Edinburgh, told delegates that national guidelines would now need to be revised. 'All the current guidelines are based on extrapolations of research,' he said.
'Given that most national guidelines recommend stockings in at least some of the patients, the results of our study will affect the treatment of millions of patients each year.
'This study showed that around 200 patients need to be treated to prevent just one case of DVT.'
Professor Dennis added that abandoning the widespread use of compression stockings could help to free up nurses' time and help to save the NHS money.
'Stockings are difficult for stroke patients to put on. It will save hours of nursing time by not using them,' he said.
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