Value and limitations of postoperative duplex scans after endovenous thermal ablation

J Vasc Surg Venous Lymphat Disord. 2024 Jan;12(1):101672. doi: 10.1016/j.jvsv.2023.06.016. Epub 2023 Sep 9.


Background: Endovenous thermal ablation (EVTA) of the lower extremity veins has risen to become the main treatment modality for symptomatic venous reflux disease. One of the main reported side effects of EVTA is recanalization. As of today, there is no clear protocol as to when follow-up duplex ultrasound scans should be performed. However, the standard for postoperative duplex after truncal ablation is within 1 week of the procedure. Our aim is to try to find whether there is a particular time period when postoperative duplex ultrasound scans should be performed to allow us to best diagnose recanalization.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 9799 procedures in 3237 patients with chronic venous insufficiency owing to great, small, and anterior accessory saphenous vein insufficiency from 2012 to 2018. We excluded 466 perforator veins. All 9799 procedures were performed using EVTA in patients who failed to respond to conservative management initially. Postoperative duplex ultrasound scans were performed within 1 week (3-7 days postoperatively). We defined a successful obliteration as lack of color flow on postoperative scan. We defined symptomatic recanalization as presence of reflux on duplex ultrasound examination in the targeted vessel at follow-up with symptom recurrence. Follow-ups were performed every 3 months in the first year and every 6 months thereafter.

Results: Patient ages ranged from 15 to 99 years. The median patient age at the time of the procedures was 63 years (interquartile range [IQR], 51-73 years). The median overall follow-up was 25 months (IQR, 4-56 months). The Clinical, Etiology, Anatomy, and Pathophysiology (CEAP) class of all the procedures were: C1, 21; C2, 208; C3, 3585; C4, 4680; C5, 188; and C6, 1117. There were 145 redo procedures performed after symptomatic recanalization was diagnosed in patients. CEAP class of the redo patients were: C1, 0; C2, 2; C3, 49; C4, 70; C5, 5; and C6, 19.

Conclusions: Most patients underwent a redo procedure performed within the first year after the initial procedure. Conversely, there was great variability as to when redo procedures were performed. Because there is no defined pattern as to when these symptomatic occurrences arise, it may not be required to perform postoperative duplex ultrasound scans after EVTA routinely, but instead when a patient comes back with symptoms such as swelling.

Keywords: Duplex ultrasound; EVLA; Endothermal ablation; RFA.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catheter Ablation*
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Lower Extremity / blood supply
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Saphenous Vein / diagnostic imaging
  • Saphenous Vein / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicose Veins* / surgery
  • Venous Insufficiency* / diagnostic imaging
  • Venous Insufficiency* / etiology
  • Venous Insufficiency* / surgery
  • Young Adult