Background: Varicose vein ablation procedures are being performed with increasing frequency; however, there is a lack of consensus on the relative efficacy of combined treatment of saphenous incompetence and symptomatic varicosities vs a staged approach. In this study, we examined the impact on symptom severity when a procedure to eliminate varicosities was added to standard endovenous saphenous ablation.
Methods: The Varicose Vein Module of the American Venous Registry was established by the American Venous Forum in 2010 and collected data from 48 physicians during a 5-year period. We analyzed patients with Clinical, Etiology, Anatomy, and Pathophysiology (CEAP) C2 disease severity and without prior treatment. Combination therapy (CT) was defined as the use of a procedure directly addressing visible varicosities (stab phlebectomy or injection of sclerosant into varicosity) combined with endovenous saphenous vein ablation. Unimodal therapy (UT) was defined as endovenous saphenous vein ablation alone (radiofrequency or laser). Change in symptom severity was assessed by the pretreatment and 1-month follow-up Venous Clinical Severity Score (VCSS). Univariate statistics compared the CT and UT groups, with P values obtained using the Student t-test or Pearson χ2 test as appropriate. A multivariable linear regression model assessed the association of CT with the change in VCSS.
Results: There were 526 patients included for analysis (UT, 97; CT, 429). UT patients were more likely to be white (85.6% vs 62.7%; P < .001), had a higher initial VCSS (6.71 vs 5.07; P < .001), and were assessed at an earlier follow-up visit (28.9 days postoperatively vs 33.3 days; P < .001). Compared with UT, CT was associated with an additional half-point reduction in VCSS on univariate analysis (-3.71 points for UT vs -4.20 for CT; P = .13). After treatment, CT was associated with significantly lower scores on the pain and varicose vein components of the VCSS (pain: 0.31 for UT vs 0.07 for CT [P = .0008]; varicose veins: 0.47 for UT vs 0.03 for CT [P < .001]). On the multivariable model, after adjustment for white race, day of follow-up, age group, and initial VCSS, CT was associated with an additional reduction in VCSS of 1.52 points compared with UT (P = .002).
Conclusions: Invasive treatment of C2 chronic venous insufficiency improves symptom severity. Whereas treatment of venous reflux is essential to address venous symptoms, our results suggest that patients further benefit from additional direct treatment of varicosities. For selected patients, CT may present a more effective treatment strategy than saphenous ablation alone.