Objectives: Recurrences of varicosities of the small saphenous vein (SSV) are common. Surgical reintervention is associated with increased complication rates. The aim of the study was to assess the feasibility of endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) in recurrent varicose veins of the SSV and to compare this technique with surgical reintervention.
Methods: All case files of patients treated for SSV varicosities between May 2006 and October 2008 were evaluated and recurrences were selected. Demographics, duplex findings, clinical, aetiological, anatomical and pathological classification, perioperative and follow-up data were all registered. Additionally, a questionnaire focusing on patient satisfaction was taken.
Results: Two hundred and eighty-one patients were treated for varicosities of the SSV, of which 42 were for recurrences. Twenty-six of these were treated with EVLA, all under local anaesthesia, and 16 were surgically treated. Most surgically treated patients were treated under regional anaesthesia (88%). Technical success was achieved in 94% of surgically treated patients and in all EVLA-treated patients. Complications in both groups were mostly minor and self-limiting. Sural nerve neuralgia appeared to be more frequent in the surgically treated group (20% versus 9%). After correction for length of follow-up, the incidence of rerecurrences was not statistically significant between groups.
Conclusion: EVLA is feasible in patients with recurrent varicose veins of the SSV with possibly a lower incidence of sural nerve injury. Patient satisfaction is high for both treatment modalities. Studies with larger samples are indicated to confirm these observations.