Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Knee News

Wearing Foot Pumps Helps to Prevent Blood Clots after Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Blood clots can be a major problem after a total knee joint replacement (TKR). Without prevention, up to 84 percent of all patients develop blood clots, medically known as deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Developing a clot increases the risk of pulmonary embolism, a life-threatening condition in which the clot breaks free and travels to the lung.

There are several ways to prevent DVT. Drugs such as aspirin, warfarin, and low-molecular weight heparin are used to thin the blood. This keeps the blood platelets from clumping together and forming a clot.

The authors of this study looked at the use of compression pumps as a prevention tool. The pumping action of a compression device gets blood moving through the veins and keeps it from pooling in one place. Drugs have side effects and complications for many patients. Compression pumps, applied to the legs, prevent clots and other problems. However, they only work if they are used.

In this study, 100 patients used the PlexiPulse® compression device after TKR. Nurses kept track of how often these were worn. This is called patient compliance. Patients and nurses were asked about ease of use, comfort, and how well the device worked.

Patient compliance was 90 percent, meaning patients wore the device 90 percent of the time. Pumps have to be removed when walking, and they can be uncomfortable at times. Nurses and patients both liked the PlexiPulse® and rate it highly.

Compression pumps to prevent blood clots are known to work well when used by patients. The PlexiPulse® improved comfort and ease of use over other types of devices. Patients are more likely to use it and put it back on after walking. Doctors, nurses, and patients involved in this study recommended its use after TKR.


Geoffrey H. Westrich, MD, et al. Compliance Using a Pneumatic Compression Device After Total Knee Arthroplasty. In The American Journal of Orthopedics. March 2003. Vol. 32. No. 3. Pp. 135-140.

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