Sequential compression devices (SCD) are used in intensive care to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the lower limbs of critically ill patients. SCD are sometimes referred to as ‘calf compressors’. DVTs are a serious complication associated with being immobile for a period of time.
How Do They Work?
SCD consist of plastic sleeves with a number of compartments and a pump. These plastic sleeves are applied to the legs, usually over thromboembolic stockings. The pump inflates and deflates the compartments with air in a predetermined sequence. This applies pressure to the muscles of the legs and a corresponding sequential compression to the veins of the legs. This serial compression of the muscles and veins mimics the action of walking and results in moving blood through the veins towards the heart and preventing pooling of blood in the lower limbs. Pooling or stasis of blood in the lower limbs increases the risk of DVT.
SCD are relatively comfortable to wear and do not restrict leg movement.
Are There Any Complications?
All Intensive Care interventions and procedures carry a degree of potential risk even when performed by skilled and experienced staff. Please discuss these issues with the medical and nursing staff who are caring for the patient.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the ICU nurses and doctors.
Please note this translation is based on an earlier version of this description.
Sequential Compression Device - Version 2
Original published June 2004
This version February 2008
Author Kaye Rolls
The information contained on this page is general in nature and therefore cannot reflect individual patient variation. In addition it reflects Australian intensive care practice which may differ from other countries. It is meant as a back up to specific information which will be discussed with you by the Doctors and Nurses caring for your loved one. ICCMU attests to the accuracy of the information contained here BUT takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.