SCD machines are specialized medical devices designed to help promote proper circulation and reduce the risk of certain medical complications after surgery. SCD machines are primarily built to function around the body’s lower extremities including thighs, calves, and feet. From the experts at the medcom group, here is some background information on SCD machines and scientific studies that support their efficacy. 

What are SCD Machines? 

Sequential Compression Device (SCD) machines are a mechanically operated device that applies sequential and intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) to the legs in order to facilitate correct blood flow and circulation. SCD machines are primarily used as a preventative measure against certain health complications caused by long-term immobility after injury, during surgery recovery, or through the recovery of other health issues. 

What conditions do SCD machines help with? 

Long periods of immobility can cause blood clots, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), venous thromboembolism (VTE), and other complications: SCD machines stimulate blood flow that would otherwise be achieved in a healthy, mobile individual, and thereby help prevent risks posed by these health conditions. 

How do SCD Machines work? 

SCD machines contain three parts: a primary control unit, specialized sleeves for a patient’s legs, and a set of reusable connector tubing. Air is pumped by the control unit through the tubing and into the sleeve which sequentially pressurizes the limb, ultimately forcing fluid (blood or lymph) up and out of the extremities and towards the heart to be refreshed and circulated. SCD machines normally fill multiple pockets of the sleeve sequentially, starting with the pockets closest to the extremity and working towards the part of the limb closest to the heart; the sleeves will then deflate, allowing the fluid to be replenished. 

What are the benefits of SCD machines? 

SCD machines have been proven to help patients by: 

  • Reducing swelling
  • Reducing pain
  • Encouraging circulation and blood health
  • Preventing medical complications (blood clots, DVT, PE, VTE)
  • Improving muscle function and recovery of athletes

SCD machines are also portable, easy to use, and can be rented or purchased depending on the needs of the patient. 

Scientific Studies Supporting SCD Machines 

Efficacy of intermittent compression devices for thromboembolic prophylaxis in major abdominal surgery: a systematic review and meta‐analysis

Lott et al. (2022)

The ANZ Journal of Surgery published a 2022 study finding that IPCDs are more effective than placebo in reducing VTE rates following abdominal and pelvic surgery.

The efficacy of intermittent pneumatic compression in the prevention of lower extremity deep venous thrombosis

Sadaghianloo and Dardik (2016)

The Journal of Vascular Surgery published a study in 2016 finding that intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) has shown efficacy in the prevention of DVT for more than 30 years. IPC represents a good alternative to pharmacologic agents when the risk of thrombosis is moderate or low or when the risk of bleeding is high or may have serious consequences for the patient.

Effectiveness of Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Devices for Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis in High-Risk Surgical Patients: A Systematic Review

Pavon et al. (2015)

The Journal of Arthroplasty published a study in 2015 finding that intermittent pneumatic compression devices are appropriate for VTE thromboprophylaxis when used in accordance with current clinical guidelines. 

Intermittent pneumatic compression for treating venous leg ulcers

Nelson, Hillman, and Thomas (2014)

The Cochrane Library published a study in 2014 finding that intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) may increase healing compared with no compression, but it is unclear whether it can be used instead of compression bandages. There is some limited evidence that IPC may improve healing when added to compression bandages. Rapid IPC was better than slow IPC in one trial.

Stratified Meta-Analysis of Intermittent Pneumatic Compression of the Lower Limbs to Prevent Venous Thromboembolism in Hospitalized Patients

Ho & Tan 2013

The American Heart Association's Circulation journal published a study in 2013 finding intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) was effective in reducing venous thromboembolism.

The efficacy of the new SCD Response Compression System in the prevention of venous stasis

Kakkos et al. (2000)

The Journal of Vascular Surgery published a study in 2000 finding that by achieving more appropriately timed compression cycles over time, the new SCD Response System is effective in preventing venous stasis. 

A systematic review of compression treatment for venous leg ulcers

Fletcher, Cullum, and Sheldon (1997)

In a review paper based on 24 randomized controlled trials, Fletcher and colleagues found the following about the treatment of venous ulcers: compression treatment increases the healing of ulcers compared with no compression; high compression is more effective than low compression but should only be used in the absence of significant arterial disease; intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) appears to be a useful adjunct to bandaging.

The content provided in this blog post is intended solely for informational purposes and does not constitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or endorsement by the medcom group®, ltd. Although we strive to keep the information up-to-date and accurate, we cannot guarantee its current validity or applicability to every situations or individuals.

This blog post may discuss matters related to SCD machines, but it should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. It's crucial to consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified medical professional before starting any new therapies, including SCD machines, or making any changes to your current healthcare regimen.

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