Introduction: Bed rest has been considered as the cornerstone of management of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) for a long time, though it is not evidence-base, and there is growing evidence favoring early ambulation. Methods: Electronic databases including Medline, PubMed, Cochrane Library and three Chinese databases were searched with key words of "deep vein thrombosis", "pulmonary embolism", "venous thrombosis", "bed rest", "immobilization", " mobilization" and "ambulation". We considered randomized controlled trials, prospective or retrospective cohort studies that compared the outcomes of acute DVT patients managed with early ambulation versus bed rest, in addition to standard anticoagulation. Meta-analysis pertaining to the incidence of new pulmonary embolism (PE), progression of DVT, and DVT related deaths were conducted, as well as the extent of remission of pain and edema. Results: 13 studies were included with a total of 3269 patients. Compared to bed rest, early ambulation was not associated with a higher incidence of new PE, progression of DVT, or DVT related deaths (RD -0.03, 95% CI -0.05 ∼ -0.02; Z = 1.24, p = 0.22; random effect model, Tau<sup>2</sup> = 0.01). Moreover, if the patients suffered moderate or severe pain initially, early ambulation was related to a better outcome, with respect to remission of acute pain in the affected limb (SMD 0.42, 95%CI 0.09∼0.74; Z = 2.52, p = 0.01; random effect model, Tau<sup>2</sup> = 0.04). Meta-analysis of alleviation of edema cannot elicit a solid conclusion because of significant heterogeneity among the few studies. Conclusions: Compared to bed rest, early ambulation of acute DVT patients with anticoagulation was not associated with a higher incidence of new PE, progression of DVT, and DVT related deaths. Furthermore, for the patients suffered moderate or severe pain initially, a better outcome can be seen in early ambulation group, regarding to the remission of acute pain in the affected limb.
Liu, Z., Tao, X., Chen, Y., Fan, Z., & Li, Y. (2015). Bed rest versus early ambulation with standard anticoagulation in the management of deep vein thrombosis:A meta-analysis. PLoS ONE, 10(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0121388