updated 5/27/2009 9:47:55 AM ET 2009-05-27T13:47:55

A new study says special stockings commonly given to stroke patients to prevent blood clots cause problems of their own and don't work as intended.

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Doctors often prescribe the tight, thigh-high stockings to patients who have suffered a stroke, seeking to prevent blood clots in patients' legs. Those clots could prove fatal if they break off and reach the heart or lungs.

But a study of more than 2,500 stroke patients in Australia, Britain and Italy, doctors found the stockings did nothing to reduce the chances of a clot. Not only that, but they caused problems like skin ulcers and blisters.

The results were simultaneously published in the Lancet medical journal and presented at the European Stroke Conference in Stockholm on Wednesday.

Some experts say they're surprised by the findings.

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