Introduction: Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for lower limb varicose veins in the short and midterm results. This study reports the 5-year outcomes of EVLA technique at different power settings.
Methods: Patients with primary symptomatic, unilateral varicose veins secondary to saphenofemoral junction (SFJ) incompetence and great saphenous vein (GSV) reflux were recruited and randomized to either 12W (intermittent laser withdrawal) or 14W (continuous laser withdrawal). They were assessed at baseline, 1, 6, 12, 52, 104 weeks, and 5 years. Outcome measures included: Venous Clinical Severity Score (VCSS), pain scores, time taken to return to normal functions, complications, recurrence, quality of life (QoL), and duplex ultrasound findings.
Results: 76 consecutive patients, M: F 30:46, median age 54(IQR: 37.3-59) years were randomized. Intragroup analysis: Significant improvement was seen in both groups in VCSS, pain scores, Aberdeen varicose vein questionnaire (AVVQ) scores, Shortform-36 (SF-36) and Euroqol (EQ-5D) domains over the follow-up period (P < 0.05). Intergroup analysis: Over 5 years, clinically recurrent varicosities and duplex detected SFJ incompetence was less frequent and patient satisfaction with cosmetic outcome significantly higher in the 14W group (P < 0.05). There was no significant difference between the groups in duration of procedure, postoperative pain scores, return to normal functioning, complications, VCSS, disease specific (AVVQ) and generic (SF36, EQ-5D) QoL measures (P > 0.05).
Conclusion: Late outcomes following EVLA were superior for the 14W continuous power settings achieving better long term venous occlusion and lowered recurrence rates without increasing post-operative morbidity. Hence 14W continuous setting should be the energy delivery mode of choice.
Keywords: endovenous laser ablation; laser energy; quality of life; varicose veins; venous clinical severity score.