Background: Diseases of the venous system are widespread disorders sometimes associated with modern civilisation and are among the major concerns of social and occupational medicine. This study was carried out to compare the efficacy (oedema reduction) and safety of compression stockings class II and dried horse chestnut seed extract (HCSE, 50 mg aescin, twice daily).
Methods: Equivalence of both therapies was examined in a novel hierarchical statistical design in 240 patients with chronic venous insufficiency. Patients were treated over a period of 12 weeks in a randomised, partially blinded, placebo-controlled, parallel study design.
Findings: Lower leg volume of the more severely affected limb decreased on average by 43.8 mL (n = 95) with HCSE and 46.7 mL (n = 99) with compression therapy, while it increased by 9.8 mL with placebo (n = 46) after 12 weeks therapy for the intention-to-treat group (95% CI: HCSE: 21.1-66.4; compression: 30.4-63.0; placebo: 40.0-20.4). Significant oedema reductions were achieved by HCSE (p = 0.005) and compression (p = 0.002) compared to placebo, and the two therapies were shown to be equivalent (p = 0.001); in this design, however, compression could not be proven as standard with regard to oedema reduction in the statistical test procedure. Both HCSE and compression therapy were well tolerated and no serious treatment-related events were reported.
Interpretation: These results indicate that compression stocking therapy and HCSE therapy are alternative therapies for the effective treatment of patients with oedema resulting from chronic venous insufficiency.