Outcomes after truncal ablation with or without concomitant phlebectomy for isolated symptomatic varicose veins (C2 disease)

J Vasc Surg Venous Lymphat Disord. 2021 Mar;9(2):369-376. doi: 10.1016/j.jvsv.2020.05.016. Epub 2020 Jun 2.


Objective: Many insurance payers are hesitating to cover interventional treatments in patients with isolated symptomatic varicose veins. In this study, we sought to determine the outcomes of patients with varicose veins who were treated with venous ablation alone or ablation plus phlebectomy using the Vascular Quality Initiative Varicose Vein Registry.

Methods: Using data from the Varicose Vein Registry between January 2015 and March 2019, we investigated immediate postoperative as well as long-term clinical and patient-reported outcomes among patients with documented symptomatic C2 disease undergoing truncal endovenous ablations alone and combined ablation and phlebectomy. Preprocedural and postprocedural comparisons were performed using t-test, χ2 test, or nonparametric tests when appropriate. Multivariable ordinal logistic regression was performed on ordinal outcome variables.

Results: Among 3375 patients with symptomatic C2 disease, 40.1% of patients (1376) underwent isolated truncal ablation and 59.9% (1999) underwent ablation and phlebectomy. Complications overall were low (8.6%) and varied between 8.4% and 8.7% in patients undergoing ablation alone and ablation plus phlebectomy, respectively (P = .820). The most common complication noted was paresthesia, 3.4% overall, which occurred more commonly after ablation and phlebectomy (4.5%) than after ablation alone (1.3%; P < .001). An improvement in Venous Clinical Severity Score (VCSS) was experienced by 87.4% of patients; median change in VCSS was 4 points (interquartile range [IQR], 2-5 points), with an improvement of 3 points among patients undergoing ablation alone (IQR, 1-5 points) and 5 points among patients undergoing ablation and phlebectomy (IQR, 3-5 points; P < .001). An improvement in overall symptoms was experienced by 94.4% of patients (median improvement, 11 points; (maximum, 30 points), with more significant decreases among patients undergoing ablation and phlebectomy (median, 12 points; IQR, 8-17 points) compared with ablation alone (median, 9 points; IQR, 5-13 points; P < .001).

Conclusions: Among patients with isolated symptomatic varicose veins (C2 disease), ablation and ablation with phlebectomy are safe and effective in improving both patient-reported outcomes and clinical severity (VCSS). Given these data, payers should continue to cover these treatments.

Keywords: C2 disease; CEAP; Chronic venous disease; Endovenous ablation; Varicose veins; Venous insufficiency.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Ablation Techniques* / adverse effects
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Functional Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Recovery of Function
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • 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*