New guidance supports use by the NHS of a small, battery-powered device that can be attached to the back of a patient’s knee to help cut the risk of blood clots developing in the deep veins of the legs.
Looking like a small wristwatch, the disposable geko device helps to increase blood flow in veins by stimulating nerves in the leg with electrical impulses, causing the muscles to contract.
The change in blood flow is similar to that triggered by walking, but the device achieves it without the patient moving.
The new National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance supports its use in patients who are at high risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) but who cannot use other methods of preventing blood clots.
Professor Carole Longson, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “This guidance is good news for patients at high risk of deep vein blood clots in the leg who can’t use standard prevention methods.
Professor Longson noted that NICE’s medical technologies advisory committee had decided that, although the clinical evidence was limited, it was “plausible that the geko device may reduce the high risk of VTE in patients who can’t use other forms of blood clot prevention”.
She said: “The additional low risk of the device causing any harm resulted in the guidance supporting routine NHS use of the device for patients at high VTE risk who have no preventative options. Using the device in this way is estimated to save £197 per patient.
“This guidance encourages the NHS to consider using the geko device for patients at high VTE risk where other methods of risk reduction aren’t suitable,” she added.
The geko device gives patients at high risk of VTE an alternative option if they cannot take clot-preventing drugs and have conditions like dermatitis and peripheral arterial disease, which rule out the use of anti-embolism stockings.