A Randomised Clinical Trial of Buffered Tumescent Local Anaesthesia During Endothermal Ablation for Superficial Venous Incompetence

Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2018 Nov;56(5):699-708. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2018.05.017. Epub 2018 Jun 29.


Objective/background: Endovenous thermal ablation (EVTA) is the recommended first line intervention for superficial venous incompetence (SVI). While the infiltration of perivenous tumescent local anaesthesia (TLA) is key to procedural success, it is paradoxically the predominant source of patient reported discomfort. This randomised controlled trial investigates the potential to reduce peri-procedural pain and improve patient reported outcome measures (PROMs), including quality of life (QoL) using TLA buffered to physiological pH.

Methods: Patients undergoing great saphenous vein EVTA with concomitant phlebectomies were randomised to either standard (ST) or buffered (BT) TLA. Follow up assessments were performed at weeks 1, 6, and 12. The primary outcome was patient reported peri-procedural pain on a 100 mm visual analogue scale (VAS). Secondary outcomes were one week post-procedural pain VAS and analgesia use, QoL (disease specific: Aberdeen Varicose Vein Questionnaire [AVVQ]; generic: Short Form-36 [SF-36] and EuroQol 5 Dimensions Questionnaire [EQ-5D]), patient satisfaction VAS, technical success on duplex ultrasound (DUS) examination, and complications.

Results: Ninety-seven patients were randomised: 50 to ST and 47 to BT. The groups had comparable baseline demographics, Clinical Etiologic Anatomic Pathological, Venous Clinical Severity Score, QoL, and DUS parameters. Equally, intra-procedural parameters (volume of TLA, length of ablation, and linear energy delivered) were also comparable. Peri-procedural pain scores were significantly lower in the BT group with a mean ± SD score of 2.86 ± 3.57 versus 4.44 ± 2.94 (p = .001). Pain scores and analgesia use over the subsequent week were equivalent. SF-36 Bodily Pain domain scores were significantly better in the BT group at week 1 (77 vs. 62; p = .008). AVVQ, SF-36, and EQ-5D scores were otherwise similar between the groups throughout follow up, significantly improving over baseline. Technical success was high in both groups, with no major complications and few minor complications.

Conclusion: Buffered TLA offers a significantly lower peri-procedural pain experience for patients undergoing EVTA and should replace current tumescent formulae.

Keywords: Ablation; Anaesthesia; Surgery; Varicose veins; Venous insufficiency.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Local
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Buffers
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Epinephrine / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Lidocaine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control
  • Quality of Life
  • Saphenous Vein / surgery*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Sympathomimetics / administration & dosage
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Venous Insufficiency / surgery*


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Buffers
  • Sympathomimetics
  • Lidocaine
  • Epinephrine