The purpose of this study was to determine the long-term efficacy, safety and rate of recurrence for varicose veins associated with great saphenous vein (GSV) reflux treated with ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy (UGFS). Methods: A five-year prospective study was performed, recording the effect on the GSV and saphenofemoral junction (SFJ) diameters, and reflux in the superficial venous system over time. UGFS was the sole treatment modality used in all cases, and repeat UGFS was performed where indicated following serial annual ultrasound.
No serious adverse outcomes were observed – specifically no thromboembolism, arterial injection, anaphylaxis or nerve damage. There was a 4% clinical recurrence rate after five years, with 100% patient acceptance of success. Serial annual duplex ultrasound demonstrated a significant reduction in GSV and SFJ diameters, maintained over time. There was ultrasound recurrence in 27% at 12 months, and in 64% at five years, including any incompetent trunkal or tributary reflux even 1 mm in diameter being recorded. Thirty percent had pure ultrasound recurrence, 17% new vessel reflux and 17% combined new and recurrent vessels on ultrasound. Of all, 16.5% required repeat UGFS treatment between 12 and 24 months, but less than 10% in subsequent years. The safety and clinical efficacy of UGFS for all clinical, aetiological, anatomical and pathological elements classes of GSV reflux was excellent.
The popularity of this outpatient technique with patients reflects ease of treatment, lower cost, lack of downtime and elimination of venous signs and symptoms. Patients accept that UGFS can be repeated readily if required for recurrence in this common chronic condition. The subclinical ultrasound evidence of recanalization or new vein incompetence needs to be considered in this light.