When is ambulation used in the treatment of deep venous thrombosis (DVT)?

Updated: Jun 06, 2019
  • Author: Kaushal (Kevin) Patel, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

In Europe, early ambulation and compression has been the mainstay of adjunctive treatment for DVT. In North America, the unsubstantiated fear of dislodging clots by ambulation led clinicians to recommend bed rest and leg elevation to their patients. The authors explained that bed rest promotes venous stasis, which is a major risk factor for DVT and, therefore, may actually enhance thrombus propagation and the risk of subsequent PE.

The authors also cited a number of other studies that revealed a significant decrease in leg swelling (using leg circumference measures) and pain (analog pain scales and quality of life scores) with early ambulation and compression. They also recognized the limited data that are available to assess the effect of early ambulation and compression on the subsequent development of PTS. In their own small trial, they reported a trend toward a lower incidence of PTS. They conceded that a larger, long-term study would be required. Nevertheless, they strongly recommended early ambulation for their patients in addition to elastic compression stockings.


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