Randomized controlled trial of vacuum therapy for intermittent claudication

David Hageman, Hugo J P Fokkenrood, Brit A C van Deursen, Lindy N M Gommans, Ernst Cancrinus, Marc R M Scheltinga, Joep A W Teijink*

*Corresponding author for this work

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OBJECTIVE: The "gold standard" treatment of intermittent claudication (IC) is supervised exercise therapy (SET). Intermittent vacuum therapy (IVT) has recently been promoted as an additional treatment of IC. During IVT, negative pressure and atmospheric pressure are alternatingly applied to the lower extremities, possibly resulting in improved circulation. The aim of this study was to determine a potential additional effect of IVT in IC patients undergoing a standardized SET program.

METHODS: IC patients were recruited from three Dutch general hospitals between December 2015 and July 2017. They received a standardized SET program but were also randomly assigned to an intervention group receiving an IVT treatment (-50 mBar negative pressure) or a control group receiving a sham treatment (-5 mBar negative pressure). IVT was provided in a dedicated clinic during 12 sessions of 30 minutes during a 6-week period. The primary outcome measure was a change in maximal treadmill walking distance. Secondary outcome measures were a change in functional treadmill walking distance, 6-minute walk test, ambulatory ability, and quality of life.

RESULTS: A total of 78 patients were randomized, of whom 70 were available for intention-to-treat analysis (control, n = 34; intervention, n = 36). At 6 and 12 weeks, increases in walking distance were of equal magnitude. Median (interquartile range) change in maximal treadmill walking distance during 12 weeks was +335 (205-756) meters in control patients and +250 (77-466) meters in intervention patients (P = .109), whereas functional treadmill walking distance increased +230 (135-480) meters and +188 (83-389) meters (P = .233), respectively. Mean ± standard deviation change in the 6-minute walk test was +36 ± 48 meters and +55 ± 63 meters (P = .823), respectively. Ambulatory ability and quality of life improved equally in both groups.

CONCLUSIONS: IVT does not confer any additional beneficial effects in IC patients undergoing a standardized SET program.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1692-1701.e1
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Intermittent claudication
  • Supervised exercise therapy
  • Vacuum therapy
  • Negative pressure therapy
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • 6-MINUTE

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