Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the possible long-term clinical advantages of stripping the long saphenous vein during routine primary varicose vein surgery.
Methods: The study was designed as a 5-year, clinical and duplex scan follow-up examination of a group of patients who were randomized to stripping of the long saphenous vein during varicose vein surgery versus saphenofemoral ligation alone. The study was conducted in the vascular unit of a district general hospital. One hundred patients (133 legs) with uncomplicated primary long saphenous varicose veins originally were randomized. After invitation 5 years later, 78 patients (110 legs) underwent clinical review and duplex scan imaging.
Results: Sixty-five patients remained pleased with the results of their surgery (35 of 39 stripped vs 30 of 39 ligated; P = .13). Reoperation, either done or awaited, for recurrent long saphenous veins was necessary for three of 52 of the legs that underwent stripping versus 12 of 58 ligated legs. The relative risk was 0.28, with a 95% confidence interval of 0.13 to 0.59 (P = .02). Neovascularization at the saphenofemoral junction was responsible for 10 of 12 recurrent veins that underwent reoperation and also was the cause of recurrent saphenofemoral incompetence in 12 of 52 stripped veins versus 30 of 58 ligated legs. The relative risk was 0.45, with a 95% confidence interval of 0.26 to 0.78 (P = .002).
Conclusion: Stripping reduced the risk of reoperation by two thirds after 5 years and should be routine for primary long saphenous varicose veins.