A description of the 'smile sign' and multi-pass technique for endovenous laser ablation of large diameter great saphenous veins

Phlebology. 2018 Sep;33(8):534-539. doi: 10.1177/0268355517734480. Epub 2017 Sep 28.


Aims To report on great saphenous vein diameter distribution of patients undergoing endovenous laser ablation for lower limb varicose veins and the ablation technique for large diameter veins. Methods We collected retrospective data of 1929 (943 left leg and 986 right leg) clinically incompetent great saphenous vein diameters treated with endovenous laser ablation over five years and six months. The technical success of procedure, complications and occlusion rate at short-term follow-up are reported. Upon compression, larger diameter veins may constrict asymmetrically rather than concentrically around the laser fibre (the 'smile sign'), requiring multiple passes of the laser into each dilated segment to achieve complete ablation. Results Of 1929 great saphenous veins, 334 (17.31%) had a diameter equal to or over 15 mm, which has been recommended as the upper limit for endovenous laser ablation by some clinicians. All were successfully treated and occluded upon short-term follow-up. Conclusion We suggest that incompetent great saphenous veins that need treatment can always be treated with endovenous laser ablation, and open surgery should never be recommended on vein diameter alone.

Keywords: Duplex ultrasound; endovenous laser ablation; great saphenous vein; saphenofemoral junction; thermal ablation.

MeSH terms

  • Endovascular Procedures / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Saphenous Vein / diagnostic imaging
  • Saphenous Vein / surgery*
  • Varicose Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Varicose Veins / surgery*