Editor's Choice - Role of Compression After Radiofrequency Ablation of Varicose Veins: A Randomised Controlled Trial

Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2020 Jul;60(1):108-117. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2020.03.014. Epub 2020 Apr 8.


Objective: Post-procedure limb compression, hitherto routine following open varicose vein surgery, has been extended to endovenous procedures. However, no robust evidence exists to support this practice. Most of the previous studies have focused on the ideal duration of compression. This study evaluates the clinical and patient reported outcomes with and without post-procedure leg compression following radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

Methods: This single centre, prospective, non-inferiority randomised controlled trial recruited adult patients, into two groups (A: RFA with compression stocking for two weeks, B: RFA alone). The primary outcome was ultrasound determined target vein obliteration at 12 weeks. Secondary outcome measures included a Quality of Life (QoL) score [Aberdeen Varicose Vein Severity Score (AVSS) and Revised Venous Clinical Severity Score (RVCSS)], patient satisfaction, pain score, and complications.

Results: In total, 100 consecutive patients were recruited (A: 51; B: 49) classified as clinical class C2-C6 of the Clinical-Etiological-Anatomical-Pathophysiological (CEAP) classification. At 12 weeks the occlusion rate of the target vein was similar in both groups at 98% (n = 47) and 98% (n = 45), respectively (p = 1.0). There was no statistically significant difference in mean AVSS 6 vs. 5.0 (mean difference -1, 95% CI -2 - 3, p = .57) and mean RVCSS 3 vs. 4 (mean difference 1, 95% CI -1 - 2, p = .46) scores at 12 weeks. Comparable patient satisfaction scores were observed (p = .72) and pain score 2.0 vs. 2.0 (p = .92) were achieved in both groups. Two patients in each group developed deep vein thrombosis at two weeks follow up (p = 1.0 for above the knee and p = 1.0 for below the knee).

Conclusion: The clinical and patient reported outcomes following RFA without compression are no worse than with compression. This trial supports the conclusion that the widely practised use of compression after RFA adds no clinical benefit for the patients. However, a much larger study, preferably a multicentre trial, may be required to confirm this conclusion.

Keywords: Compression; Endothermal ablation; Radiofrequency ablation; Varicose veins.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Compression Bandages*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Care / methods
  • Radiofrequency Ablation* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicose Veins / surgery*
  • Young Adult