Postthrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a complication of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) characterized by chronic pain, swelling, and heaviness, and may result in ulceration. Elastic compression stockings (ECS) worn daily after DVT have been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of PTS. The aim of our study was to investigate practices and perceptions of physicians regarding adjunct therapies to anticoagulation in patients diagnosed with lower extremity DVT.
A national online survey was conducted of Canadian emergency medicine staff physicians and residents (n=471) to investigate their attitudes toward the prescription of ECS post-diagnosis of DVT. A paper survey of patients in a thrombosis clinic (n=58) was also administered to better understand the patient experiences with ECS.
The majority of staff physician (62%) and resident (69%) respondents were unsure of whether ECS were effective in preventing PTS and managing venous symptoms. Only 6% of staff physicians and 7% of residents routinely prescribed ECS for above-knee DVTs. More than 78% of respondents were unsure about the optimal timing of initiation of ECS and duration of therapy. Although all patients noted symptomatic relief with ECS, only 50% were prescribed stockings by an emergency or family doctor, and 69% of those patients wore the stockings on a daily basis. Staff physicians most frequently identified poor fit as the reason for lack of patient compliance, whereas patients most frequently cited cost.
Our findings suggest that there is variability in practice among Canadian emergency medicine physicians and trainees and a need for widespread education regarding the latest evidence of the benefit of ECS after DVT.
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