brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2022;105(1):23

This clinical content conforms to AAFP criteria for CME.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial relationships.

Clinical Question

Are compression stockings safe and effective for the prevention of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) in airline passengers?

Evidence-Based Answer

Compression stockings are effective at reducing asymptomatic DVT in airline passengers taking flights longer than five hours in both high-risk (number needed to treat [NNT] = 37; 95% CI, 35 to 46) and low-risk (NNT = 111; 95% CI, 100 to 143) populations.1 (Strength of Recommendation: C, based on disease-oriented evidence.) It is unclear if compression stockings prevent symptomatic DVT, pulmonary embolism (PE), or death. There are no significant adverse events associated with their use.

Practice Pointers

DVT occurs through the formation of a blood clot in the deep veins, typically within the lower extremities. This can ultimately lead to a PE, a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Prolonged periods of immobility that occur during air travel are a risk factor for the development of venous thromboembolism (VTE).2 However, symptomatic VTE (including DVT or PE) after long-distance travel is rare, with an incidence of 27 per 1 million passengers within 14 days of travel.2 Asymptomatic DVT is a finding of uncertain clinical significance and occurs in 2.4% of high-risk travelers and 1.5% of low- or medium-risk travelers.1 Risk factors for VTE with long-distance travel (greater than four hours) include active malignancy, recent surgery, pregnancy or recent postpartum state, hormone therapy, obesity, and a history of VTE.3

Already a member/subscriber?  Log In


From $145
  • Immediate, unlimited access to all AFP content
  • More than 130 CME credits/year
  • AAFP app access
  • Print delivery available

Issue Access

  • Immediate, unlimited access to this issue's content
  • CME credits
  • AAFP app access
  • Print delivery available
Purchase Access:  Learn More

These are summaries of reviews from the Cochrane Library.

This series is coordinated by Corey D. Fogleman, MD, assistant medical editor.

A collection of Cochrane for Clinicians published in AFP is available at

Continue Reading

More in AFP

More in Pubmed

Copyright © 2022 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.