How TED hose help prevent blood clots

Heart Health

by Baylor Scott & White Health

Dec 22, 2021

Those tight white knee-highs or hose your doctor may prescribe during a hospital stay may not make a fashion statement, but TED hose are often a must-have accessory for your health.

TED hose are specially designed knee-high, thigh-high or waist-high stockings that help prevent blood clots and swelling in your legs. The acronym TED stands for Thrombo-Embolic Deterrent.

When do I need to wear TED hose?

TED hose push blood up the leg, toward the heart. If you have had surgery or can’t get out of bed, you are at greater risk of developing a blood clot.

TED hose may be recommended:

  • After surgery
  • If you are confined to bed because of illness or injury
  • If you have a history of blood clots

Unlike compression socks, which gently improve blood flow and fight swelling and discomfort if you can stand and move around, TED hose provides stronger compression levels.

Here’s an easy way to remember the difference between TED hose and compression socks: TEDS are for BEDS.

Why do I need to wear TED hose?

Most of the time, your body breaks down a clot after an injury is healed. But, sometimes, abnormal clots form inside the vessels that can be more life-threatening.

Among them:

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

A medical condition that happens when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in your body. Deep vein clots typically occur in the following:

  • Lower leg
  • Thigh

Pulmonary embolism

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that forms in a blood vessel in one part of the body – often in the leg—and travels through your bloodstream to a lung artery, where it becomes wedged, blocking blood flow.

How blood clots form

Oxygen-rich blood leaves your heart through your arteries and travels throughout your body down to your toes. Veins carry the blood back to your heart to absorb more oxygen. Unlike arteries, veins rely on gravity and the pumping power of your leg muscles to return the blood to the heart. 

If you’ve had surgery or experience difficulty moving your legs, your blood may have trouble making the trip back to your heart—anytime blood pools, your risk for clotting rises.

Blood clots that move to the lungs, heart or brain can be fatal. That’s where the job of a hard-working pair of TED hose comes in.

How do TED hose work?

TED hose offer graduated degrees of pressure over the ankle, mid-calf and thigh to improve blood flow. The tension gradually decreases as the stockings move up the leg.

These specialized types of stockings are often used in combination with sequential compression devices (SCDs), which are disposable sleeves that electronically squeeze your lower legs at set intervals.

Who should wear TED hose?

If you’ve had surgery or need to stay in bed, talk to your doctor about wearing TED hose.

Because the risk of blood clots after surgery is significant, most doctors recommend TED hose during recovery unless there is a condition that contraindicates wearing them.

TED hose may also be recommended if you:

  • Have poor circulation in your legs
  • Have poor muscle tone in your legs

TED hose may not be recommended if you have:

  • Leg wounds
  • Leg deformity
  • Extreme edema
  • Some diabetic conditions

Finding the right TED hose fit

If you need stockings for medical reasons, they should fit correctly. Your doctor may collect several measurements, including the width of your ankles, length and width of your calves, the width of your thighs, and overall leg length.

TED hose may be challenging to put on, but they are designed to be tight fitting to apply the pressure needed to promote circulation in your legs. The hose should be tight, but the heel and elastic waist band shouldn’t cut into your skin.

You nursing team will take regular assessments, checking your pressure points, throughout your hospital stay. If you’re required to continue to wear TED hose at home, call your doctor if the stockings begin to feel too tight or if you develop a rash from skin irritation.

How long should I wear TED hose?

If your doctor advises you to wear TED hose, you’ll probably want to keep them on most of the time. Be sure to:

  • Remove stockings before a shower or bath
  • Check for any skin problems before washing
  • Wear fall-risk socks (with rubberized treads on the bottom) or slippers or shoes when walking

TED hose are generally recommended for short-term use, usually around three weeks, until you are up and about, or can be prescribed a different form of blood clot prevention.

Check with your doctor about how often and how long you need to use them.

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