Skip to Main Content


Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is a common problem in the ICU. Preventative measures include pharmaceutical and physical measures, the latter of which will be covered in this chapter.

Definitions and Terms

  • ▪  DVT: Thrombosis in the deep veins of the legs


  • ▪  Sequential compression devices are applied to the calf or calves in bed-bound critically ill patients (Figure 51-1).

Figure 51-1.

Sequential compression devices applied to both ankles.

Clinical Pearls and Pitfalls

  • ▪  There is some evidence suggesting that sequential compression devices have antithrombotic effects by acting to inhibit the clotting cascade, so that a single sticking may be worn if there is a contraindication to placement on one leg (ie, vascular surgery).

Suggested Reading

Ramos J, Perrotta C, Badariotti G, Berenstein G. Interventions for preventing venous thromboembolism in adults undergoing knee arthroscopy. Cochrane Database of Syst Rev. 2007;(2):CD005259.
Brady D, Raingruber B, Peterson J, et al. The use of knee-length versus thigh-length compression stockings and sequential compression devices. Crit Care Nurs Q. 2007;30:255–262.  [PubMed: 17579309]

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.