Objectives: This prospective duplex study was conducted to study the effect of current surgical treatment for primary varicose veins on the development of venous insufficiency < or = 2 years after varicose vein surgery.
Methods: The patients were part of a randomized controlled study where surgery for primary varicose veins was planned from a clinical examination alone or with the addition of preoperative duplex scanning. Postoperative duplex scanning was done at 2 months and 2 years.
Results: Operations were done on 293 patients (343 legs), 74% of whom were women. The mean age was 47 years. In 126 legs, duplex scanning was done preoperatively, at 2 months and 2 years, and at 2 months and 2 years in 251 legs. Preoperative perforating vein incompetence (PVI) was present in 64 of 126 legs. Perforator ligation was not done on 42 of these; at 2 months, 23 of these legs (55%) had no PVI, and at 2 years, 25 legs (60%) had no PVI. Sixty-one legs had no PVI preoperatively, 5 (8%) had PVI at 2 months, and 11 (18%) had PVI at 2 years. In the group of 251 legs, reversal of PVI between 2 months and 2 years was found in 28 (41%) of 68 and was more common than new PVI, which occurred in 41 (22%) of 183 (P = .003). After 2 years, the number of legs without venous incompetence in which perforator surgery was not performed was 11 (26%) of 42 legs with preoperative PVI and 18 (30%) of 61 legs without preoperative PVI, (P = .713). After 2 years, new vessel formation was more common in the surgically obliterated saphenopopliteal junction (SPJ), 4 (40%) of 10, than in the saphenofemoral junction (SFJ), 17 (11%) of 151(P = .027), and new incompetence in a previously normal junction was more common in the SFJ, 11 (18%) of 63, than in the SPJ, 3 (1%) of 226 (P < .001). Reflux in the great saphenous vein (GSV) below the knee was abolished after stripping above the knee in 17 (34%) of 50 legs at 2 months and in 22 legs (44%) after 2 years.
Conclusions: Varicose vein surgery induces changes in the remaining venous segments of the legs that continue for several months. In most patients, perforators and the GSV below the knee can be ignored at the primary surgery. A substantial number of recurrences in the SFJ and SPJ are unavoidable with present surgical knowledge because they stem from new vessel formation and progression of disease.