Objectives: To observe the effect of local anaesthetic flush through the great saphenous vein (GSV) tunnel on postoperative pain and haematoma formation following saphenous vein stripping operations.
Design: Prospective, double-blind, randomised, control trial.
Methods: One hundred patients were randomized to receive 20 ml of local anaesthetic (bupivacaine 0.25% + adrenaline) or saline control flush through the GSV tunnel after stripping in a double-blind study. Visual analogue pain scores were used to measure postoperative pain daily for the 1st week, then at 3 weeks and 6 weeks. Patients were examined during the 1st, 3rd and 6th week for haematoma formation.
Results: In the control group the median postoperative pain score was 4 (range 0-7) in the immediate postoperative period compared to a median of 1 (range 0-4) in the LA group (p<0.001). The median pain score on day-4 was 4 (range 1-6) (control) vs. 1 (range 0-3) (LA group) (p<0.001, Mann-Whitney Utest) and on day-6 it was 1 (range 0-5) (control) vs. 0 (range 0-5) (LA group) (p<0.001, Mann-Whitney). Twelve patients (24%) developed a haematoma in the GSV tunnel in the control group compared to three patients (6%) in the LA group (p = 0.007).
Conclusion: Flushing of the GSV tunnel with bupivacaine plus adrenaline significantly reduces postoperative pain and haematoma formation in patients undergoing GSV stripping for varicose veins.