The main purpose of this systematic review was to investigate the effect of compression treatment on the perioperative course of ankle fractures and describe its effect on edema, pain, ankle joint mobility, wound healing complication, length of stay (LOS) and time to surgery (TTS). The aim was to suggest a recommendation to clinicians considering implementing compression therapy in the standard care of the ankle fracture patient, based on the existing literature.
We conducted a systematic search of literature including studies concerning adult patients with unstable ankle fractures undergoing surgery, testing either intermittent pneumatic compression, compression bandage and/or compression stocking and reporting its effect on edema, pain, ankle joint mobility, wound healing complication, LOS and TTS. To conclude on data a narrative synthesis was performed.
The review included eight studies (451 patients). Seven studies found a significant effect on edema, two studies described a significant reduction in pain, one a positive effect on ankle movement, two a positive effect on wound healing, one a reduction in LOS and finally two studies reported reduction in TTS. A systematic bias assessment showed that the included studies had methodological limitations influencing the confidence in the effect estimate.
Compression therapy has a beneficial effect on edema reduction and probably a positive effect on pain and ankle joint mobility, but with the methodological limitations in the included studies it is not possible to make a solid conclusion on the effect on wound healing, LOS and TTS.