Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials evaluating long-term outcomes of endovenous management of lower extremity varicose veins

J Vasc Surg Venous Lymphat Disord. 2018 Mar;6(2):256-270. doi: 10.1016/j.jvsv.2017.10.012. Epub 2017 Dec 29.


Background: Early studies have demonstrated that endovenous therapy for varicose veins is associated with a faster recovery and lower complication rates compared with conventional therapy. More than one million procedures have been performed worldwide. The objective of this study was to determine long-term efficacy of currently available endovenous therapy methods for varicose veins compared with conventional surgery (saphenofemoral ligation and stripping of great saphenous vein [GSV] with or without multiple avulsions) in management of GSV-related varicose veins.

Methods: In July 2017, we searched MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Embase, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science without date or language restriction for relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Bibliographies of included studies were also searched for additional studies. RCTs comparing conventional surgery and endovenous therapy for treating lower extremity varicose veins with 5 years or more of follow-up were selected. Data extraction and quality assessment were performed independently by two review authors, and any disagreements were resolved by consensus or by arbitration of a third author. Cochrane RevMan 5 was used for analysis.

Results: At time of data extraction, long-term follow-up was available for endovenous laser therapy (EVLT), radiofrequency ablation (RFA), and ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy. Included in the review were nine RCTs. The RCTs included 2185 legs; however, only 1352 legs were followed up for 5 years (61.9%). There was no statically significant difference in recurrence rate in comparing EVLT with conventional surgery in treating GSV incompetence (36.6% vs 33.3%, respectively; pooled risk ratio, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 0.76-2.37; P = .3). Also, no significant difference was determined for recurrence rate in comparing RFA with surgery or EVLT.

Conclusions: Although the analysis showed that EVLT and RFA are as effective as conventional surgery in treating saphenous venous insufficiency, the number of patients available for analysis was too small for definitive conclusions to be drawn.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Endovascular Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ligation
  • Lower Extremity / blood supply*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Saphenous Vein / diagnostic imaging
  • Saphenous Vein / physiopathology
  • Saphenous Vein / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicose Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Varicose Veins / physiopathology
  • Varicose Veins / therapy*
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Venous Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging
  • Venous Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Venous Insufficiency / therapy*