Objective: To report the 5 year outcome of varicose veins surgery and to establish the factors determining recurrence.
Study design: Prospective observational study.
Materials and methods: This study reports the outcome in 1326 patients treated in a day surgery centre of an institutional referral centre. Patients were investigated clinically and by colour flow duplex scanning before operation. Treatments used included flush ligation of the sapheno-femoral junction (SFJ) and the sapheno-popliteal junction (SPJ). Incompetence of the great saphenous vein (GSV) and small saphenous vein (SSV) were managed by stripping of these veins. Perforating vein ligation and hook phlebectomy were also used. Patients were evaluated 3 weeks and 5 years following treatment by clinical examination and duplex ultrasonography.
Results: 412 patients were excluded from the study because they failed to attend for follow-up or did not wear elastic stockings post-operatively. No residual saphenous truncal reflux was found at the initial assessment 3 weeks following surgery. After 5 years, recurrence of varicose veins occurred in 332 patients out of 1326 (25 %). Recurrences arose at the sapheno-femoral junction in 109 out of 862 patients (13%), at the sapheno-popliteal junction in 39 out of 132 patients (30%), in both saphenous regions 38 out of 107 patients (36%) and in 146 out of 225 subjects (65 %) with secondary varicose veins.
Conclusion: Varicose veins recurred despite technically correct surgery confirmed on post-operative duplex ultrasonography. The likelihood of recurrence increased in the presence of SSV reflux, perforating vein incompetence and post-thrombotic deep vein incompetence.