Inelastic Leg Compression Is More Effective to Reduce Deep Venous Refluxes than Elastic Bandages


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Hugo Partsch, MD, Professor of Dermatology, Wilhelminen Hospital, A 1171 Vienna, Austria.


Background. Deep venous refluxes play an important triggering role for the development of venous leg ulcers. Compression therapy is able to reduce these refluxes depending on pressure and the kind of material being used.

Objective. To compare the efficacy of compression bandages of varying pressure and material (elastic, long-stretch versus inelastic, short-stretch bandages, four-layer bandages).

Methods. Venous volume (VV) and venous filling index (VFI) as a quantitative parameter of venous reflux were measured using an airplethysmograph (APG) in a total of 21 patients presenting with venous leg ulcers and deep venous refluxes. Bandage pressure was measured in every experiment. The influence of elastic and inelastic bandages with increasing pressure and the changes in these parameters using different bandages with the same pressure were investigated.

Results. The initial median value of VFI without compression was 8.45 ml/sec. VV and VFI were significantly reduced by increasing external pressure, more strongly with inelastic than with elastic material. With a pressure of 25 mmHg inelastic bandages diminished VFI to a median of 3.25 ml/sec while the elastic material did not even approach this value with a pressure of 40 mmHg (4.25 ml/sec). Applying bandages of different material with the same pressure of 30 mmHg, the most intense reduction of VV and VFI was obtained by inelastic and by four-layer bandages. The effect on venous reflux was statistically significantly superior with inelastic compared to elastic material.

Conclusion. Using the same bandage pressure, inelastic material is more effective at reducing deep venous refluxes than elastic bandages in patients with venous ulcers. Four-layer bandages show similar efficacy to inelastic bandages.