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A Journal on Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery

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The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2008 April;49(2):213-33

language: English

Systematic review and meta-analysis of endovenous radiofrequency obliteration, endovenous laser therapy, and foam sclerotherapy for primary varicosis

Luebke T., Brunkwall J.

Division of Vascular Surgery University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany


Aim. Radiofrequency obliteration (RFO), endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) and foam sclerotherapy (FS) are potential treatments for varicose veins. A systematic review was undertaken to assess their safety and effectiveness and to compare these endoluminal therapeutic options with conventional ligation and vein stripping.
Methods. An electronic health database search was performed on all studies published between 1970 and 2007 describing RFO, EVLT, and FS for treating varicose veins.
Results. Twenty-nine EVLT studies, 32 RFO studies and 22 FS trials were included. RFO was associated with the worst short and long-term safety and efficacy results compared to EVLT and FS regarding “complete occlusion at the end of follow-up”, “phlebitis”, “deep vein thrombosis”, and “paraesthesia”. EVLT had the best results concerning the long-term effectiveness parameters for “occlusion at the end of follow-up” and “recanalization, recurrence or development of new veins”, compared to RFO and FS. Foam sclerotherapy of varicose veins is associated with a higher recurrence rate in patients with saphenofemoral incompetence compared to the rates after EVLT or RFO treatment.
Conclusion. EVLT, RFO, and FS seem to be safe and effective modalities with good short and mid-term results. Acquisition of comparative long-term and very long-term data on clinical efficacy (particularly with regard to the formation of recurrent varicose veins), safety, quality of life outcomes and costs is needed by large high-quality prospective randomized trials of endovenous techniques versus each other and versus surgery before considering endovenous techniques as the standard treatment.

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