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The effect of compression stocking on leg edema and discomfort during a 3-hour flight: A randomized controlled trial

Published:February 06, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2019.01.013

      Highlights

      • Compression stockings reduced ankle- and calf edema during a short-haul flight.
      • Compression stockings did not improve comfort or pain in young healthy passengers.
      • Use of compression stockings did not cause any adverse events.

      Abstract

      Background

      Compression stockings reduce the risk of thromboembolic complications, leg edema, and edema-related pain and discomfort during long-haul flights. The aim of this study was to assess if compression stockings reduce leg edema, pain, and discomfort during a three-hour flight.

      Methods

      This randomized controlled trial had a paired design as participants were randomized to wear a compression stocking on one leg during a three-hour flight with the other leg acting as control. Eligibility criteria were adults aged 18–60 years living in Denmark without medical indication for wearing compression stockings during flights. The primary outcome was the change in difference of ankle circumference between legs with and without compression stocking pre- and post-flight. Secondary outcomes were changes in difference of calf circumference, pain, and discomfort pre- and post-flight. All outcomes were self-reported with measurements and questionnaires.

      Results

      A total of 34 participants, median age 31 years (range 25–54), were randomized with complete follow-up. Difference in ankle circumference was median 5 mm larger post-flight compared with pre-flight (interquartile range (IQR) = 0–9, p = .001) and the corresponding change in calf circumference difference was median 5 mm (IQR = 1–12, p < .001). Ankle- and calf circumferences decreased in the leg wearing compression stocking and increased in the other leg. There was no change in difference of pain and discomfort and no adverse events.

      Conclusion

      Compression stockings reduced edema formation in young healthy passengers during a three-hour flight. Passengers experiencing edema-related discomfort during short-haul flights may benefit from wearing compression stockings during air travel.
      Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov: NCT03546725.

      Keywords

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