DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, is the formation and release of blood clots (thrombi) inside the deep veins, most often in the legs. PE (pulmonary embolism) occurs when one of these thrombi becomes lodged in the lungs. Together, these conditions are referred to as VTE, or venous thromboembolism. DVT can cause significant, crippling damage. PE is a life-threatening event.
A primary cause of DVT is immobility during and after surgery, and during hospitalization. The muscles used in walking press on the veins in the legs, pumping blood towards the heart. Without this activity, blood flow slows.
Methods to prevent DVT include clot-preventing drugs, pneumatic compression, anti-embolism stockings, and early ambulation.
Pneumatic compression, also called IPC (intermittent pneumatic compression) or SPC (sequential pneumatic compression) is effective and inexpensive, with very few adverse effects.
It can be used in patients at risk of bleeding, or in combination with pharmaceutical prophylaxis.
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