Randomized clinical trial comparing endovenous laser ablation, radiofrequency ablation, foam sclerotherapy, and surgical stripping for great saphenous varicose veins with 3-year follow-up

J Vasc Surg Venous Lymphat Disord. 2013 Oct;1(4):349-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jvsv.2013.04.008. Epub 2013 Aug 3.


Introduction: This study compares the outcome 3 years after treatment of varicose veins by endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), radiofrequency ablation, ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy (UGFS), or surgery by assessing recurrence, Venous Clinical Severity Score (VCSS), and quality of life (QOL).

Methods: A total of 500 patients (580 legs) were randomized to one of the three endovenous treatments or high ligation and stripping of the great saphenous vein (GSV). Follow-up included clinical and duplex ultrasound examinations and VCSS and QOL questionnaires. Kaplan-Meier (KM) life-table analysis was used. P values below .05 were considered statistically significant.

Results: At 3 years, eight (KM estimate, 7%), eight (KM estimate, 6.8%), 31 (KM estimate, 26.4%), and eight (KM estimate, 6.5%) of GSVs recanalized or had a failed stripping procedure (more than 10 cm open refluxing part of the treated GSV; CLF, EVLA, UGFS, and stripping, respectively; P < .01). Seventeen (KM estimate, 14.9%), 24 (KM estimate, 20%), 20 (KM estimate, 19.1%), and 22 (KM estimate, 20.2%) legs developed recurrent varicose veins (P = NS). The patterns of reflux and location of recurrent varicose veins were not different between the groups. Within 3 years after treatment, 12 (KM estimate, 11.1%), 14 (KM estimate, 12.5%), 37 (KM estimate, 31.6%), and 18 (KM estimate, 15.5%) legs were retreated in the CLF, EVLA, UGFS, and stripping groups, respectively (P < .01). VCSS, SF-36, and Aberdeen QOL scores improved significantly in all the groups with no difference between the groups.

Conclusions: All treatment modalities were efficacious and resulted in a similar improvement in VCSS and QOL. However, more recanalization and reoperations were seen after UGFS.