Effectiveness of sclerotherapy, surgery, and laser therapy in patients with venous malformations: a systematic review

Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2014 Aug;37(4):977-89. doi: 10.1007/s00270-013-0764-2. Epub 2013 Nov 7.


Purpose: Because the best possible treatment for venous malformations is unclear, this study systematically reviews the available literature regarding the effectiveness of different treatment options for the patient group. Venous malformations result from incorrect development of the veins during embryogenesis and are present at birth. Venous malformations may exhibit symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and inflammation of the vessel.

Materials and methods: A systematic literature search in PubMed and Embase was performed. Data regarding the design, participants, intervention and, treatment outcome (success and complications) were extracted. The validity of the studies was assessed with the Cochrane Collaboration's risk of bias tool.

Results: Thirty-five studies were identified studying the effectiveness of eight treatments: sclerotherapy/embolization with ethanol, gelified ethanol, bleomycin, polidocanol, sodium tetradecyl sulfate (STS), Ethibloc, surgery, and laser therapy. All of the included studies have a high or unclear risk of bias. The average biased reported success rates for ethanol, gelified ethanol, bleomycin, polidocanol, STS, Ethibloc, surgery, and laser therapy were 74, 89, 88, 90, 86, 65, 90, and 94 %, respectively.

Conclusion: Until more valid evidence is available, the choice for treatment remains a shared decision between the patient and a multidisciplinary treatment group. From a cost perspective, sclerotherapy with STS or polidocanol should be the treatment of choice.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sclerosing Solutions
  • Sclerotherapy*
  • Vascular Malformations / therapy*
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures*


  • Sclerosing Solutions