Evidence on efficacy of treatments of venous ulcers and on prevention of ulcer recurrence

Perspect Vasc Surg Endovasc Ther. 2009 Dec;21(4):259-68. doi: 10.1177/1531003510373660.


Venous ulcers affect almost 1 million people in the United States. Delayed healing and frequent recurrence result in pain, disability, decreased quality of life, and loss of working days for the patients. Compression therapy is the most effective treatment of ulcers, but compliance with conservative treatment is important, and recurrence must be prevented by treating the underlying ambulatory venous hypertension. Evidence from prospective randomized trials confirm that ulcer recurrence is decreased with superficial vein surgery. Evidence is also increasing about the superiority of endovenous interventions, such as laser or radiofrequency ablation, over the classic open surgical treatment of high ligation, division, and stripping of the saphenous vein. Well-conducted randomized trials are still needed to provide grade A evidence to justify treatment of incompetent perforating veins. Treatment of proximal venous occlusion is important, and venous stents have been effective and durable. Open surgery is only considered today for iliac or iliocaval venous obstruction if endovascular treatment is not possible or has already failed. Open surgery for deep venous incompetence is recommended in centers of excellence, although evidence to support its effectiveness is of low quality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Stockings, Compression*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicose Ulcer / drug therapy
  • Varicose Ulcer / pathology
  • Varicose Ulcer / surgery
  • Varicose Ulcer / therapy*
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures*
  • Wound Healing


  • Cardiovascular Agents