Inelastic compression increases venous ejection fraction more than elastic bandages in patients with superficial venous reflux

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To investigate the influence of compression bandages, manufactured using materials with different elastic properties, on the impaired venous pumping function in patients with venous insufficiency.


Ejection volume (EV) and ejection fraction (EF) were measured using strain gauge plethysmography distal from the patella without and with elastic and inelastic compression bandages in a total of 30 patients with major venous reflux in the great saphenous vein. The interface pressure of the bandages was measured simultaneously in the medial gaiter area. Normal values of EV and EF were obtained from 15 healthy controls.


Patients with venous insufficiency showed a statistically significant reduction of EV and EF compared to controls. Elastic bandages with an average pressure of 42 mm Hg in the supine position achieved a moderate increase of EV and a significant improvement of EF (p < .01), while inelastic bandages applied with comparable resting pressure (41 mm Hg) raised EV and EF into a normal range (p < .001). The improvement of the ejection fraction correlates well with the pressure differences between standing and lying (Static Stiffness Index) and between muscle systole and diastole during exercise (Pearson r = 0.69 and 0.74 respectively, p < .001). Elastic bandages applied with high stretch in order to achieve standing pressures comparable to those of inelastic bandages (>60 mm Hg) led only to a minor improvement of the venous pumping function.


Ejected volume and ejection fraction, which are severely reduced in venous insufficiency, can be increased by compression therapy. Inelastic compression is much more effective than elastic bandages, and is able to normalize venous pumping function. With elastic bandages EV and EF always remain below the normal range even when applied with high stretch producing a resting pressure that is barely tolerable.

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