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Keywords:

  • gravitational syndrome;
  • compression therapy;
  • venous insufficiency;
  • skin rheology;
  • biologic elasticity

Summary

Background

The gravitational syndrome resulting from venous pressure elevation occasionally develops on the legs during pregnancy. The limb tends to enlarge and become stiffer. The body contours are altered.

Aims

To assess incipient gravitational edema due to chronic venous insufficiency using measurements of the skin tensile strength.

Method

A total of 21 women aged 28–37 years were enrolled in the study. Evaluations were made twice in each subject following an alternate use and avoidance of daytime elastic contention. Skin viscoelasticity was measured on the mid portion of the calves using a computerized suction device.

Results

The discretely increased consistency of skin showing abnormal rheological characteristics at the site of incipient gravitational edema was significantly improved by contention therapy. Under progressive suction measurements, both skin distensibility, biologic elasticity and hysteresis were increased after wearing tight stockings. The biologic elasticity appears to be the most sensitive parameter pointing to the diagnosis of gravitational syndrome.

Conclusion

Noninvasive measurements of the skin viscoelasticity, particularly the biologic elasticity, represent an objective assessment of both early gravitational edema and its control by contention therapy.