Objective: To investigate whether the results of duplex examination 1 year after sapheno-femoral junction (SFJ) ligation might be helpful in predicting long-term results after 5 years.
Patients and methods: Follow-up data concerning patients operated on for primary or recurrent varicose veins of the great saphenous vein were studied 1 year and 5 years after surgery, focusing on the thigh and groin region. Clinical examination was undertaken to detect recurrent thigh varicose veins. The site of SFJ ligation was carefully screened for any signs of neovascularisation by duplex ultrasound. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive value of the 1-year duplex scan were calculated, based upon the outcome of a further duplex scan 5 years following surgery.
Results: A total of 100 limbs were studied: 50 limbs operated on for primary varicose veins and 50 limbs for recurrent varicose veins. The 1-year duplex ultrasound of the SFJ ligation site had a sensitivity of 80%, a specificity of 91%, a positive predictive value of 70% and a negative predictive value of 95% in assessing the 5 year recurrence rate.
Conclusion: A postoperative duplex scan of the SFJ 1 year after varicose vein surgery to the great saphenous vein predicts which patients are most likely to have a good outcome 5 years after surgery. The 1-year duplex scan is a reliable diagnostic tool for future studies evaluating the effect of new methods of treating sapheno-femoral incompetence.