A randomized controlled noninferiority trial comparing radiofrequency with stripping and conservative hemodynamic cure for venous insufficiency technique for insufficiency of the great saphenous vein

J Vasc Surg Venous Lymphat Disord. 2021 Jan;9(1):101-112. doi: 10.1016/j.jvsv.2020.04.019. Epub 2020 Apr 28.


Objective: The quality of available evidence regarding new minimally invasive techniques to abolish great saphenous vein reflux is moderate. The present study assessed whether radiofrequency ablation (RFA) was noninferior to high ligation and stripping (HLS) and conservative hemodynamic cure for venous insufficiency (CHIVA) for clinical and ultrasound recurrence at 2 years in patients with primary varicose veins (VVs) due to great saphenous vein (GSV) insufficiency.

Methods: We performed a randomized, single-center, open-label, controlled, noninferiority trial to compare RFA and 2 surgical techniques for the treatment of primary VVs due to GSV insufficiency. The noninferiority margin was set at 15% for absolute differences. Patients aged >18 years with primary VVs and GSV incompetence, with or without clinical symptoms, C2 to C6 CEAP (Clinical, Etiologic, Anatomic, Pathophysiologic) clinical class, and GSV diameter >4 mm were randomized with a 1:1:1 ratio to RFA, HLS, or CHIVA. The rate of clinical recurrence at 24 months was the primary endpoint and was analyzed using a delta noninferiority margin of 15%. Ultrasound recurrence, safety, and quality of life were secondary endpoints.

Results: From December 2012 to June 2015, 225 limbs had been randomized to RFA, HLS, or CHIVA (n = 74, n = 75, and n = 76). Clinical follow-up and Doppler ultrasound examinations were performed at 1 week and 1, 6, 12, and 24 months postoperatively. No differences in postoperative complications or pain were observed among the three groups. RFA was noninferior to HLS and CHIVA for clinical recurrence at 24 months, with an estimated difference in recurrence of 3% (95% confidence interval [CI], -4.8% to 10.7%; noninferiority P = .002) and -7% (95% CI, -17% to 3%; P < .001), respectively. For ultrasound recurrence, RFA was noninferior to CHIVA, with an estimated difference of -34% (95% CI, -47% to -20%; noninferiority P < .001) at 24 months. However, noninferiority could not be demonstrated compared with HLS (5.9%; 95% CI, -4.1 to 15.9; P = .073). No differences were found in quality of life among the three groups.

Conclusions: RFA was shown to be noninferior in terms of clinical recurrence to HLS and CHIVA in the treatment of VVs due to GSV insufficiency.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02454452.

Keywords: CHIVA; Catheter ablation; Randomized controlled trial; Stripping; Varicose veins.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Equivalence Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Catheter Ablation* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Ligation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Recurrence
  • Saphenous Vein / diagnostic imaging
  • Saphenous Vein / physiopathology
  • Saphenous Vein / surgery*
  • Spain
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Varicose Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Varicose Veins / physiopathology
  • Varicose Veins / surgery*
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Venous Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging
  • Venous Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Venous Insufficiency / surgery*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02454452