Background: This study compares the outcome 5 years after treatment of varicose veins with endovenous radiofrequency ablation (RFA), endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy (UGFS) or high ligation and stripping (HL/S) by assessing technical efficacy, clinical recurrence and the rate of reoperations.
Methods: Five hundred patients (580 legs) with Great Saphenous Vein (GSV) reflux and varicose veins were randomized to one of the 4 treatments. Follow-up included clinical and duplex ultrasound examinations.
Results: During 5 years there was a difference in the rate of GSV recanalization, recurrence and reoperations across the groups, KM P<0.001, P<0.01, P<0.001 respectively. Thus 8 in the RFA group (Kaplan Meier [KM] estimate 5.8%), 8 in the EVLA group (KM estimate 6.8%), 37 (KM estimate 31.5%) in the UGFS group and 8 in the HL/S group (KM estimate 6.3%) of GSVs recanalized or had a failed stripping procedure. Nineteen (RFA) (KM estimate 18.7%), 42 (EVLA) (KM estimate 38.6%), 28 (UGFS) (KM estimate 31.7%) and 38 (HL/S) (KM estimate 34.6%) legs developed recurrent varicose veins. Within 5 years after treatment, 19 (RFA) (KM estimate 17%), 19 (EVLA) (KM estimate 18.7%), 43 (UGFS) (KM estimate 37.7%) and 25 (HL/S) (KM estimate 23.4%) legs were retreated.
Conclusions: More recanalization's of the GSV occurred after UGFS and no difference in the technical efficacy was found between the other modalities during 5-year follow-up. The higher frequency of clinical recurrence after EVLA and HL/S cannot be explained and requires confirmation in other studies.