Background: Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) are both associated with excellent technical, clinical and patient-reported outcomes for the treatment of varicose veins. The aim of this study was to compare the techniques in a randomized clinical trial.
Methods: Consecutive patients with primary great saphenous vein reflux were randomized to EVLA (980 nm) or RFA (VNUS ClosureFAST) at a single centre. The primary outcome measure was postprocedural pain after 3 days. Secondary outcome measures were quality of life at 6 weeks, determined by the Aberdeen Varicose Vein Questionnaire (AVVQ) and Short Form 12 (SF-12), and clinical improvement assessed by the Venous Clinical Severity Score (VCSS). Analyses were performed on the basis of intention to treat using multivariable linear regression.
Results: Some 131 patients were randomized to EVLA (64 patients) or RFA (67). Mean(s.d.) pain scores over 3 days were 26.4(22.1) mm for RFA and 36.8(22.5) mm for EVLA (P = 0.010). Over 10 days, mean(s.d.) pain scores were 22.0(19.8) mm versus 34.3(21.1) mm for RFA and EVLA respectively (P = 0.001). The mean(s.d.) number of analgesic tablets used was lower for RFA than for EVLA over 3 days (8.8(9.5) versus 14.2(10.7); P = 0.003) and 10 days (20.4(22.6) versus 35.9(29.4) respectively; P = 0.001). Changes in AVVQ, SF-12 and VCSS scores at 6 weeks were similar in the two groups: AVVQ (P = 0.887), VCSS (P = 0.993), SF-12 physical component score (P = 0.276) and mental component score (P = 0.449).
Conclusion: RFA using VNUS ClosureFAST was associated with less postprocedural pain than EVLA. However, clinical and quality-of-life improvements were similar after 6 weeks for the two treatments.