Background: Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) improves haemodynamics in peripheral arterial disease (PAD), but its effects on foot perfusion were scarcely studied. In severe PAD patients we measured the foot oxygenation changes evoked by a novel intermittent IPC device (GP), haemodynamics and compliance to the treatment. Reference values were obtained by a sequential foot-calf device (SFC).Methods: Twenty ischemic limbs (Ankle-Brachial Index = 0.5 ± 0.2) of 12 PAD patients (7 male, age: 74.5 ± 10.8 y) with an interval of 48 ± 2 hours received a 35 minute treatment in supine position with two IPC devices: i) a Gradient Pump (GP), which slowly inflates a single thigh special sleeve and ii) an SFC (ArtAssist®, ACI Medical, San Marcos, CA, USA), which rapidly inflates two foot-calf sleeves. Main outcome measure: changes of oxygenated haemoglobin at foot (HbO2foot) by continuous near-infrared spectroscopy recording and quantified as area-under-curve (AUC) for periods of 5 minutes. Other measures: haemodynamics by echo-colour Doppler (time average velocity (TAV) and blood flow (BF) in the popliteal artery and in the femoral vein), patient compliance by a properly developed form.Results: All patients completed the treatment with GP, 9 with SFC. HbO2foot during the working phase, considered as average value of the 5 minutes periods, increased with GP (AUC 458 ± 600 to 1216 ± 280) and decreased with SFC (AUC 231 ± 946 to -1088 ± 346), significantly for most periods (P < 0.05). The GP treatment was associated to significant haemodynamic changes from baseline to end of the treatment (TAV = 10.2 ± 3.3 to 13.5 ± 5.5 cm/sec, P = 0.004; BF = 452.0 ± 187.2 to 607.9 ± 237.8 ml/sec, P = 0.0001), not observed with SFC (TAV = 11.2 ± 3.4 to 11.8 ± 4.3 cm/sec; BF = 513.8 ± 203.7 to 505.9 ± 166.5 ml/min, P = n.s.). GP obtained a higher score of patient compliance (P < 0.0001).Conclusions: A novel IPC thigh device, unlike a traditional SFC device, increased foot oxygenation in severe PAD, together with favourable haemodynamic response and high compliance to the treatment under the present experimental conditions. © 2014 Manfredini et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.