Cricoid pressure prevents aspirations, preoperative antibiotics avoid infections, and compression stockings protect against deep vein thrombosis. Many medical measures aim to reduce morbidity and mortality among patients, but unfortunately, the benefit of these measures is often not, or insufficiently, proven. Under certain circumstances, they may lead to additional problems or even cause harm (e.g. cricoid pressure Read Here).
Time has definitely come to take a closer look at compression stockings for surgical patients. Apart from the fact that they look terrible, they are just as uncomfortable to wear and even carry certain risks in patients with peripheral vascular disease, for example. The effectiveness of compression stockings in modern practice has been questioned, but robust evidence has been lacking.
This seems to change, as the long-awaited GAPS-Trial has been published and now provides further evidence on what concern patients undergoing elective surgery.
Among this population, adding compression stockings to pharmaco-thromboprophylaxis was non-superior compared to pharmaco-thromboprophylaxis alone (primary outcome). There was also no difference in the quality of life outcomes found (secondary outcome).
There is now some robust evidence to omit compression stockings in surgical patients that receive pharmacological thromboprophylaxis.
Shalhou J. et al. BMJ 2020;369:m1309