Introduction: The aim of this pilot study was to compare two methods of removing the great saphenous vein (GSV) from the groin to the limit of distal venous incompetence. Our aim was to compare endoscopically assisted GSV stripping to conventional stripping.
Design: Randomised pilot study.
Patients and methods: 60 patients presenting with primary GSV incompetence and symptomatic varicose veins were randomly assigned to sapheno-ligation and either conventional GSV stripping or endoscopically assisted GSV stripping. The primary endpoint was the number of adverse events including haematoma in the thigh, ecchymosis, seroma, wound healing complications and wound infections. The SF-36 health survey was completed before treatment and one and four weeks postoperatively. The study was approved by the local ethics committee (EK 07-041-VK).
Results: 60 patients were enrolled in the study and randomized to endoscopic (n=30) and to traditional (n=30) stripping. The patients age ranged from 30 to 75 years (mean 53 years), 18 patients were male, 42 female. The combined rate of postoperative morbidity at week 1 was 32 events (53%), 13 (42%) events in the endoscopic and 19 (63%) in the conventional group (not significant). The SF-36 assessment one week postoperatively showed that patients in the endoscopic group reported significantly less pain (P=0.03, Mann-Whitney). At four weeks, patients in the endoscopic group had significantly less pain (P<0.005) and better physical function (P<0.005) and physical role (P=0.01). For all other parameters no significant difference noted.
Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that endoscopic GSV excision showed no difference in adverse events between treatments, although our pilot study may have been under-powered to demonstrate this. The SF-36 assessment suggests more rapid return to normal activities post-operatively in the endoscopic group.