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Stockings as good as bandages for leg ulcers, say researchers

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Leg ulcers take the same time to heal when patients wear compression stockings as they do with traditional bandages, according to a UK study.

Patients also reported less ulcer recurrence after using the stockings and required fewer nurse visits, making the stockings better value for money for the NHS.

However, not all patients liked to wear the stockings and more changed to another treatment, compared to those wearing bandages.

The trial was carried out by researchers from the universities of Manchester and York, with funding from the National Institute for Health Research.

The study, known as Venous leg Ulcer Study IV, saw 454 people use either multi-layer compression bandages or compression stockings. The results, published in the Lancet, will now help inform nursing practice.

Multi-layer compression bandages have been the main treatment for venous leg ulcers but cost the NHS millions of pounds per year.

Lead study author Dr Jo Dumville, senior lecturer in applied health research at Manchester University’s school of nursing, midwifery and social work, said: “The finding that compression stockings are a cost effective treatment for venous leg ulcers is important for patients, carers and the NHS.

Dr Jo Dumville

Dr Jo Dumville

“Compression bandages are bulky, unattractive and may interfere with normal footwear, they can also be costly as they take time to apply and often require frequent nurse visits to change them.”

Nikki Stubbs, clinical lead at Leeds Community Healthcare Trust, said: “Where appropriate, the day to day application of stockings can be undertaken by patients, carers and a range of health professionals. From a patient perspective this may promote independence.”

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