The SMTL have been testing compression hosiery for the Welsh NHS and industry for over 20 years. Currently the SMTL are the only laboratory in the UK accredited by UKAS to test the performance/compliance of compression hosiery to the requirements of the British Standards:

  • BS 6612:1985 Graduated Compression Hosiery
  • BS 7563:1999 Non-Prescriptive Graduated Support Hosiery
  • BS 7672:1993 Anti-Embolism Hosiery

The testing is performed on the original Mark II HATRA Hosiery testing apparatus which is quoted in all the British Standards. These standards specify requirements for hosiery which is designed to exert compression on the legs while walking or standing, and includes tests for compression, durability of compression following repeated washing, stiffness, sizing and labelling. The standards cover pantihose, thigh-length and knee-length garments for men and women.

Compression and stiffness (change of compression with girth) defines the properties of compression hosiery and garment performance is expressed as a compression value in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). This is derived from the pressure exerted by garments at the ankle and the relative pressures at the calf and thigh, which must gradually decrease up the leg in order to improve good blood circulation.

With the publication of the NICE Guidance Venous Thromboembolism: reducing the risk in surgical inpatients in April 2007, users and purchasers of compression hosiery are now starting to ask for evidence of their technical performance from suppliers. The NICE guidance states that hosiery should meet the Sigel compression profile which equates to sub-stocking pressures of:

  • Ankle = 18mmHg
  • Calf = 14mmHg
  • Knee = 8mmHg
  • Lower Thigh = 10mmHg
  • Upper Thigh = 8mmHg

The laboratory is recognised as a centre of excellence for the testing of hosiery and our reports are accepted and respected worldwide by clinicians, manufacturers and procurement bodies.

If you wish to commission testing of your compression stockings so that you can demonstrate compliance with the NICE recommended Sigel profile, or relevant British Standards then contact the SMTL:

Dr Gavin Hughes Technical Manager Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory Princess of Wales Hospital Coity Road Bridgend, UK. CF31 1RQ Tel: 01656-752820 Email: physical@smtl.co.uk

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