Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) has been used for venous thromboembolism (VTE) prevention. It is necessary to evaluate the effects and safety of intraoperative use of IPC devices in the prevention of VTE in surgical patients.

Material and methods:
Two authors independently searched the PubMed, Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, Embase, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and Wanfang databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and cohort studies on the use of IPC in surgical patients up to June 10, 2021. The Cochrane Collaborations risk of bias tool and the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) were used for quality assessment. RevMan 5.3 software was used for statistical analyses.

A total of 13 studies including seven RCTs and six retrospective cohort studies involving 6673 surgical patients were included; 1883 patients underwent IPC intervention. The synthesized RCT results indicated that IPC was beneficial to reduce the incidence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) (RR = 0.30, 95% CI: 0.22–0.40, p < 0.001) and VTE (RR = 0.51, 95% CI: 0.27–0.95, p = 0.03). The synthesized results from retrospective cohort studies indicated that IPC is beneficial to reduce the incidence of DVT (RR = 0.63, 95% CI: 0.42–0.96, p = 0.03) and PE (RR = 0.34, 95% CI: 0.16–0.72, p = 0.005). No significant publication bias was found for any synthesized outcomes (all p > 0.05).

IPC seems to be safe and effective in the prevention and management of intraoperative VTE. Limited by study sample size, this conclusion still needs to be further confirmed by large-sample, multi-center, high-quality clinical studies.