Compression for venous leg ulcers

Nicky A. Cullum, E. Andrea Nelson, Alison Fletcher, Trevor Sheldon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of compression bandaging and stockings in the treatment of venous leg ulcers. SEARCH STRATEGY: Searches of 19 databases, hand searching of journals, conference proceedings and bibliographies. Manufacturers of compression bandages and stockings and an Advisory Panel were contacted for unpublished studies. SELECTION CRITERIA: Trials that evaluated compression bandaging or stockings, as a treatment for venous leg ulcers. There was no restriction on date or language. Ulcer healing was the primary endpoint. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Details of eligible studies were extracted and summarised using a data extraction sheet. Data extraction was verified by two reviewers independently. MAIN RESULTS: Twenty two trials reporting 24 comparisons were identified. Compression was more effective than no compression (4/6 trials). When multi-layered systems were compared, elastic compression was more effective than non-elastic compression (5 trials). There was no difference in healing rates between 4-layer bandaging and other high compression multi-layered systems (3 trials). There was no difference in healing rates between elastomeric multi-layered systems (4 trials). Multi-layered high compression was more effective than single layer compression (4 trials). Compression stockings were evaluated in two trials. One found a high compression stocking plus a thrombo stocking to be more effective than a short stretch bandage. The second small trial reported no difference between the compression stockings and Unna's boot. There was insufficient data to draw conclusion about the relative cost-effectiveness of different regimens. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: Compression increases ulcer healing rates compared with no compression. Multi-layered systems are more effective than single-layered systems. High compression is more effective than low compression but there are no clear differences in the effectiveness of different types of high compression.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD000265
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2001


  • bandages
  • compression stockings
  • cost-benefit analysis
  • randomized controlled trial
  • venous leg ulcers
  • wound healing


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