Late recurrent saphenofemoral junction reflux after ligation and stripping of the greater saphenous vein

J Vasc Surg. 2001 Aug;34(2):236-40. doi: 10.1067/mva.2001.115802.


Objective: This study was done to determine the long-term incidence of refluxing epifascial-to-deep vein reconnections in the area of the former saphenofemoral junction after ligation of the true junction, along with all proximal tributaries, and resection of the greater saphenous vein.

Patients and methods: A total of 125 limbs in 77 patients, representing 66% of 117 survivors among 602 patients who underwent operation between 1960 and 1967, were evaluated clinically and with duplex sonography for possible superficial-to-deep vein reconnections and clinical recurrence of thigh varicosities at a mean follow-up of 34 years.

Results: Clinical examination suggested saphenofemoral recurrence in 59 limbs (47%). In 11 instances these were actually varices associated with isolated superficial system reflux or reflux originating from a distally located perforating vein. Color-coded duplex ultrasonography demonstrated saphenofemoral reflux in 75 limbs (60%), versus the 48 identified on clinical examination (P <.001), and documented that the junction ligation had not been performed incorrectly by absence of the terminal valve or any patent proximal saphenous remnant. The reflux originated at the site of the ligated saphenofemoral junction in 53 limbs (71%) and from a nearby circumjunctional deep vein in the other 22 (29%). Of the real junctional recurrences, 22 appeared as a tangled cluster, and 31 involved a single-lumen varix. Only 27 recurrences were sufficiently symptomatic to warrant consideration of additional treatment; 25 of these were clinically evident, single-lumen, true junctional recurrences.

Conclusions: This 34-year clinical follow-up study shows a 60% incidence of junctional and circumjunctional reconnections after ligation of the true saphenofemoral junction and its related tributaries. Color-coded duplex sonography is a necessary concomitant to clinical examination, detecting more recurrences and defining the pathologic anatomy to direct clinically indicated additional treatments.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Femoral Vein / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Ligation
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Recurrence
  • Saphenous Vein / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Varicose Veins / surgery*
  • Vascular Diseases / epidemiology*