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Thigh-Length Stockings Help Avert Thromboses After Stroke

Thigh-length stockings reduce risk of deep venous thrombosis 31 percent versus below-knee stockings

TUESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- In hospitalized stroke patients, proximal deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is less common in those who wear prophylactic thigh-length stockings than in those who wear below-knee stockings, according to a study published online Sept. 20 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Martin Dennis, M.D., of Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, U.K., and colleagues from the Clots in Legs Or sTockings after Stroke (CLOTS) collaboration conducted the study in 3,114 immobile patients from 112 medical facilities hospitalized with acute stroke during 2002 to 2009. The patients were given either thigh-length stockings or below-knee stockings to wear in the hospital. To detect proximal DVTs, ultrasonography was performed in 1,406 patients in each stocking group between seven and 10 days after enrollment, and again between 25 and 30 days in 643 patients in the thigh-length-stocking group and 639 in the below-knee-stocking group.

The researchers discovered DVTs in 6.3 percent of the patients with the thigh-length stockings and 8.8 percent of those with the below-knee stockings, representing a 31 percent reduction of risk for the thigh-length-stocking group. In the thigh-length-stocking group, 3.9 percent of patients suffered skin breaks compared to 2.9 percent in the below-knee-stocking group.

"Our results might also have implications for other categories of hospitalized patients at risk for DVT, such as those undergoing elective surgery. Unfortunately, no randomized trials have compared below-knee stockings with no stockings. We have shown that thigh-length stockings are probably more effective than below-knee stockings," the authors write.

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