Thrombo-Embolic Deterrent (TED) socks are medical devices worn on the legs of patients to manage the risk of conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and blood clots. TED socks, also known as anti-embolism stockings, are recommended primarily for patients who are confined to bed and patients convalescing after surgery who are largely immobile. Patients suffering from chronic edema, paralysis or numbness, or those with a history of DVT or pulmonary embolism also might be required to use the devices. The elastic TED socks squeeze the legs, which reduces swelling and promotes a healthy flow of blood.
Patients who are bedridden and unable to move are at risk for DVT, which can cause the formation of blood clots in the veins of the leg. These clots can be carried to other parts of the body such as the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism, a serious and potentially lethal condition. A blood clot in the brain can trigger a stroke, which is equally threatening. Clots lodged in other areas of the body can be dangerous as well. TED socks compress the leg and promote a good flow of blood through the veins, minimizing the risk of a clot forming, and thus reducing the possibility of an embolism or stroke.
TED socks are not always the best option for patients. Doctors generally recommend compression stockings instead for patients who are mobile. Skin graft patients, as well as those with severe edema or open sores, might not be able to wear TED socks. Some vascular conditions and allergies might prevent their use as well, and it is recommended that patients seek the advice of a doctor before using any such device.
Patients who are able to wear TED socks must take care to use them properly. The patient cannot lie with legs crossed, and wrinkles and creases in the stockings must be smoothed. It is also crucial that the patient is properly measured and that the correct size stockings are fitted, because the stocking size directly affects the strength of compression to the leg.
Difficulty in putting TED socks on and taking them off has been reported by some patients. Some manufacturers have made recommendations such as using gloves for improved grip or using a tube of slick cloth called a foot slip, and instructions should be read thoroughly before using the stockings. In addition, some patients also find the devices expensive, unattractive, hot and uncomfortable, but most agree that these complaints are minimal compared to the dangers of going without treatment.