What Is a Venous Pump?

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  • Written By: Glyn Sinclair
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2020
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A venous pump is part of a sleeve-like device that is wrapped around parts of the body, usually limbs, to compress veins so that blood is pushed in the direction of the heart. The apparatus works by contracting against muscles that move and hold up the body’s skeleton. It is non-invasive and typically used for condition such as deep vein thrombosis, which is when clots form in the deep veins, and venous stasis ulcers, which are open sores usually found on the leg below the knee. The venous pump can also be used for lymphedema, which is a condition that causes the extremities to swell due to insufficient lymph fluid circulation. The pumps can be used either in a hospital setting or by patients suffering from chronic, longer lasting conditions.


There are many types of venous pumps on the market and they are typically available in two classifications when used for treating lymphedema: segmental pumps, and segmental pumps with gradient pressure that is calibrated by the machine itself. The segmental pump inflates three separate air chambers one after another. The segmental pump with gradient pressure is considered to be better for this condition as the pressure is calibrated to be stronger nearer the fluid buildup, and tapers off as it moves closer to the heart. In this way the fluid is able to flow up towards the heart. The pumps typically come with attachments such as half or full leg boots, arm sleeves, and more extensive body sleeves.

Once the sleeve has been placed around the area of edema, or fluid buildup, a tube is then attached to a pump which is plugged into an electrical outlet. The pump then serves to push air into the chambers in timed cycles so that the fluid or blood is pushed away from the area of swelling. The fluid is then absorbed into the body system and eventually released as urine. Treatments can last up to two hours and are typically administered up to three times a day. Technicians will teach patients how to use the venous pump outside of a hospital or clinic environment.

A venous pump used for deep vein thrombosis is different to one used for lymphedema and is generally termed non-segmental. This means that it does not have individual air chambers, but rather the air fills up one large chamber around the area of the deep blood clot.


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