Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Therapy: Why the Type of Sleeve and Compression Cycle You Use May Not Matter

April 1, 2009 | Evaluations & Guidance


Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) therapy devices are used to prevent the occurrence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in nonambulatory or immobile patients who are at risk for developing blood clots. These devices facilitate blood circulation in the lower extremities by periodically compressing the foot, the calf, and/ or the thigh. This helps circulate the blood back to the heart and prevents pooling of blood (which increases the risk of clots) in the peripheral veins.

All IPC devices consist of a sleeve containing one or more bladders that are periodically inflated and deflated to pump blood out of the veins, thereby increasing venous return and blood velocity. But different IPC devices deliver their therapy in different ways. Sleeve types vary, as do the types of compression cycles used. (See the table on page 122for a summary of the different component types and therapy modes. More extensive descriptions can be found in our June 2007 issue. )

Although there’s little doubt that IPC therapy is effective overall (see the discussion IPC Works below), a recurring...

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