UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development and initial evaluation of wireless self-monitoring pneumatic compression sleeves for preventing deep vein thrombosis in surgical patients Cheung, William Ka Wai


This thesis describes the successful development and initial evaluation of a proof-of-concept wireless monitoring system for improving the effectiveness and safety of pneumatic compression therapy to help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). In the development, an important objective was to make feasible the practical and commercial deployment of such improved therapy systems in future, by focusing on a cost-effective design and implementation. Over the years, pneumatic compression has been shown to be an effective solution for the prevention of DVT. However, different problems and complications related to the use of commercial pneumatic compression de-vices that typically include automatic pressure controllers and pneumatic compression sleeves have been reported. For example, one study reported a high percentage of improperly applied or nonfunctional pneumatic compression devices in routine usage. Technical problems, non-compliance, and human error were identified as the causes behind the failed therapies. Also, it was reported that dedicated in-service instruction did not improve the proper use of the pneumatic compression controllers and sleeves. In another study, significant unanticipated variations between expected and delivered pneumatic compression therapy were reported: expected therapy delivered only an average of 77.8% of the time during the therapy, and much of the time key values related to the outcome of the therapy were found to have variations great than 10%. Specific hazards have also been reported. For example, one patient developed acute compartment syndrome after wearing a pair of pneumatic compression sleeves with faulty pressure release valves. In another case, epidural analgesia masked a malfunction resulting from a reversed connection between four-way plastic tubing of the sleeves and the controller, exposing a patient to a hazardous pressure of around 300mmHg,blocking all blood flow for a prolonged period of time. Newer models of pneumatic compression sleeves and controllers from various manufacturers claim to improve therapy by, for example, increasing the peak blood flow velocity. However, there is no evidence in the published literature to support such claims. A published review of the literature from1970-2002 reached the conclusion that the most important factors in im-proving therapy with pneumatic compression devices, particularly during and after surgery, were the degree of conformance of delivered therapy to the prescribed therapy, patient compliance, and the appropriateness of the site of compression. The inability to monitor delivered therapy and patient compliance remains a problem in efforts to improve pneumatic compression therapy. The above-described problems were addressed in the successful development of the innovative prototype described in this thesis. This wireless monitoring system should improve the effectiveness and safety of pneumatic compression therapy. Also, innovative aspects of the system design allow for cost-effective integration into existing commercial controllers and sleeves. For example, an innovative and potentially patentable usage and reprocess indicator was developed for pneumatic compression sleeves to significantly improve their safety and to reduce their cost of use per patient.

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