Objectives: To investigate the recurrence rate after sapheno-femoral junction (SFJ) ligation and great saphenous vein (GSV) stripping for varicose veins (VV), to evaluate risk factors for recurrence and to classify the anatomy of the recurrence in the groin. Design. Clinical follow-up study.
Methods: Eighty-nine consecutive patients with 100 operated legs were re-examined clinically and with duplex after 6-10 years. Fourteen groins were re-explored, 13 after varicography. The anatomy in the groin was classified according to the Edinburgh system. The original medical records were examined to check for risk factors which could lead to a recurrence.
Results: Fifty-seven legs had incompetent veins in the groin according to duplex. In 54 of them, it was possible to define whether the incompetent veins emanated from the former SFJ. Varicography and operative findings correlated well to duplex. The main difficulty was to distinguish neovascularization from residual branches. No significant risk factor for recurrence was found in the medical records.
Conclusions: Recurrence of VV after SFJ ligation is common irrespective of perioperative difficulties or the surgeon's experience. The anatomy of recurrence in the groin is difficult to classify according to the Edinburgh system mainly because neovascularization is difficult to verify.