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Compression Pumps FAQs

What is an external compression pump (EPC)?
What are the benefits of compression therapy?
What is DVT?
What is lymphedema?
What are compression pumps used to treat?
What are acute care DVT pumps?
What are chronic care DVT pumps?
Is there anything I should know before using a compression pump?
Is my compression pump reimbursable by Medicare or Medicaid?
I have compression sleeves from the hospital. Can I use those with my compression pump?
How will I know what size of DVT compression pump garments or Lymphedema compression pump garments to order?
How are compression pumps used in treating various illnesses?

What is an external compression pump (EPC)?


External compression pumps are medical devices that help stimulate blood and fluid movement. They come in a variety of sizes and with several different features. Compression pumps at Vitality Medical are divided into two categories: Lymphedema and DVT.

What are the benefits of compression therapy?


There are several benefits to compression therapy including:
  • Easy to use
  • Non-invasive
  • Clinically proven
  • Relaxing for patients
  • Few side effects
  • Medicare reimbursement (if criteria are met)

What is DVT?


DVT stands for Deep Vein Thrombosis. It is a condition in which there is a blockage in a deep vein, caused by long durations of little or no body movement. Symptoms may vary, although some experience no symptoms at all. DVT can be dangerous since these blockages can travel to the lungs and a life threatening pulmonary emboli.

What is lymphedema?


Lymphedema is a condition in which lymph fluid fails to circulate properly, which results in swelling and reduced movement in the arms or legs. It may also result in infection and skin breakdown. Lymphedema can be caused by damaged lymphatics, missing vessels, and by poor venous circulation. Although there is no cure for lymphedema, the symptoms can be managed by elevating the legs, applying compression hosiery and the use of compression pumps.

What are compression pumps used to treat?


Compression pumps are often used for patients who suffer from venous stasis ulcers, lymphedema (swelling of the extremities) and also the treatment of blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Compression pumps are either used for acute care (in the hospital, temporary) or chronic care (long term, often at home or an extended care facility). These pumps are designed to treat either venous insufficiency, lymphedema or the treatment of DVTs, and differ in the cycle time of the squeeze. Both augment blood and lymphatic flow. Note: Lymphedema and DVT pumps are not interchangeable, meaning a lymphedema pump should not be used to treat DVT and vice versa.

What are acute care DVT pumps?


Acute care DVT pumps are primarily used in the acute hospital setting for the treatment of blood clots. The pump mimics regular walking-like activities by altering leg compression. The standard DVT pump has a cycle time of 12 seconds of inflation and 48 seconds of deflation. The cycle timing provides effective movement of venous blood out of the limb, while allowing adequate time for venous refill prior to the next inflation cycle. The recommended pressure setting is 40 mmHg. The garments extend from the ankle to below the knee or from the ankle to the upper thigh.

The purpose of this pump is to move blood in the veins, thereby preventing venous stasis and stimulating fibrinolytic activity. This aids in the treatment of DVTs and the life-threatening condition of a clot forming and dislodging to the lung, called a pulmonary emboli (PE). This type of pump is most often used in the acute care setting until the patient is fully ambulatory (walking at least five minutes every waking hour). This pump can also be used in the home care setting depending on the needs of the patient. The sleeves or garments used in the hospital for the treatment of DVTs are not interchangeable to treat swelling or lymphedema.

What are chronic care DVT pumps?


Chronic care compression pumps are primarily used to treat swelling due to venous or lymphatic problems, like venous stasis ulcers and intractable lymphedema. This pump has a much longer cycle time (two to three minutes or greater), with a longer inflation cycle. The longer cycle time is used to assist in the movement of fluid from the interstitial spaces into the venous or lymphatic system for re-circulation and/or elimination. The full leg garment looks and fits like a boot that extends to the groin fold, and the full arm sleeve covers the hand and extends to the axillary (arm pit) region. There are also half leg garments and half arm garments. The pumps' pressure varies depending on the patient's condition, the goal of the therapy, and the patient's response to treatment.

Is there anything I should know before using a compression pump?


If a compression pump is used to alleviate symptoms of lymphedema or DVT treatment, care must be taken that infection or metastic disease is not present. In the case of pulmonary edema or phlebitis, extreme caution must be exercised. People with the following conditions should not use an external compression pump:
  • Pain or numbness of the extremity
  • Severe peripheral arteriosclerosis or other ischemic diseases
  • Congestive heart failure/pulmonary edema
  • Gangrene
  • Dermatitis
  • Untreated infected wounds
  • Recent skin grafts
  • Known or suspected acute deep vein thrombosis or thrombophlebitis

Please consult your physician to discuss any change in symptoms or treatment before any new therapy is attempted.

Is my compression pump reimbursable by Medicare or Medicaid?


Consult your insurance plan representative to find out if you qualify. Vitality Medical does not bill insurance/Medicare/Medicaid.

I have compression sleeves from the hospital. Can I use those with my compression pump?


Compression sleeves given at the hospital are designed for DVT treatment, not Lymphedema. Also, sleeves are specialized to that particular pump. It is not recommended that patients use sleeves other than the ones authorized by the manufacturer.

How will I know what size of DVT compression pump garments or Lymphedema compression pump garments to order?


Please consult our sizing information.

How are compression pumps used in treating various illnesses?


The following is not a comprehensive list and your treatment may differ from the one listed below. Check with your physician to see what treatment plan is best for you.
Condition
Distal Pressure Frequency Duration
Post-stroke, paralysis, pregnancy 40 mmHg 1-2 hours Twice/day
Post-surgery or injury 40 mmHg 30 min - 1 hour Twice/day
Mild lymphedema 40-50 mmHg 1-2 hours Twice/day
Moderate to severe lymphedema 50-60 mmHg 1-2 hours 2-4/day
Post phlebitic syndrome, venous insuffciency 50 mmHg 30 min - 1 hour Twice/day
Venous stasis ulcers 50 mmHg 30 min - 1hour Twice/day

Sources

Cleveland Clinic - Heart and Vascular Health Dictionary
SpinalNet - Deep Vein Thrombosis Glossary
Cancer Care - Breast Cancer Terms
Helpful Articles & Resources

National Lymphedema Association (US) - The National Lymphedema Association (US)
Lymphedema - The Lymphedema Association of Australia
Lymphovenous Canada - How effective are extremity pumps?
eMedicine - Deep Venous Thrombosis and Thrombophlebitis
Medicare - Medicare Coverage Database
Medicare - HCPCS Codes

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