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BACKGROUND: Ankle fractures account for 9% of all fractures seen in the United Kingdom. 15,000 of these fractures undergo operative fixation each year. Soft tissue swelling impacts on timing of fixation due to fears of infection and wound dehiscence. The use of arterio-venous foot pumps (AVFP) is increasing in this population although the evidence for their efficacy is unclear. In order to address this, we present an overview of the evidence for AVFP device use following ankle fracture. METHODS: In September 2015 an electronic literature search was undertaken of studies comparing two or more methods of swelling reduction in patients with ankle fractures. Of 326 screened, 5 papers ultimately were included. RESULTS: Two studies reported a statistically significant reduction in swelling (p=0.03) and (p=0.03 at 24 hours, p=0.05 at 48 hours) after using AVFP devices compared to the controls (leg elevation +/ ice therapy). Stockle et al. reported a greater reduction in the preoperative ankle, midfoot and forefoot circumference at 24 hours in their AVFP group (53% versus 32% and 10% in their continuous cryotherapy and cool pack cryotherapy groups respectively). Whereas, Rohner-Spengler et al. observed improved preoperative swelling reduction in patients treated with a multilayer compression bandage when compared to their AVFP group. Keehan et al. reported that time to surgery was considerably reduced in patients treated with an AVFP device, (2.3 days) compared to those treated with leg elevation (4.6 days) (p=0.02). Length of stay (LOS) was not influenced by any of the tested interventions. CONCLUSIONS: AVFP devices have been shown to reduce time to surgery and degree of swelling before operative intervention better than other methods but the strength of evidence to support this remains poor.

Original publication




Journal article


Foot (edinb)

Publication Date





61 - 66


Ankle, Fracture, Pump, Swelling, Adult, Ankle Fractures, Edema, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Fracture Fixation, Internal, Humans, Injury Severity Score, Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Devices, Male, Middle Aged, Postoperative Care, Treatment Outcome, Young Adult