What Is the Purpose of Anti-Embolism Stockings?

The purpose of anti-embolism stockings is to reduce a person's risk of developing venous thromboembolism, or VTE, according to NHS Choices. Experts from the Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education say venous thromboembolism is a serious condition that includes pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis.

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the body. These deep veins are found in the muscles, according to WebMD. DVT typically develops in the pelvis, thighs and legs, but it is possible for a clot to form in the upper extremities. Pulmonary embolism is when a piece of the clot breaks off and travels to the heart, where it is eventually pumped to the lungs.

NHS Choices describes anti-embolism stockings as compression stockings that are often worn following major surgery or an acute illness that results in reduced mobility. Someone with a high risk for VTE may be instructed to wear anti-embolism stockings even if he is released from the hospital shortly after surgery.

Anti-embolism stockings are typically worn during the day and while the patient is sleeping, but they may be removed for showering or bathing, according to NHS Choices. Anyone at risk for VTE should wear anti-embolism stockings for as long as the doctor recommends.