The Use of Foam Sclerotherapy for Varicose Veins


The aim was to explore the current experience and practice of vascular surgeons in the United Kingdom and Ireland regarding foam sclerotherapy for varicose veins.


A postal questionnaire was sent to 609 members of the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland.


There were 281 responses (47%). Seventy surgeons (25%) used foam sclerotherapy. Most use it selectively; few (29%) offer it to all patients. It was more likely to be used for recurrent varices (71%), in older patients (61%) and for smaller non-saphenous varices (67%). The majority of surgeons (69%) used sodium tetradecyl sulphate and up to a maximum of 10e12 ml of foam. The majority used ultrasound guidance (95%), leg elevation (69%) and direct pressure over the saphenofemoral or saphenopopliteal junction during injection (63%). Eighty per cent used compression bandaging after treatment, usually for 7 days (44%). Ninety percent advised compression stockings, usually Class II (64%) for 14 days (39%). Serious complications were few, but eleven surgeons had seen a deep vein thrombosis, two had seen a patient with a stroke and one a transient ischaemic attack.


Foam sclerotherapy was used by a quarter of surgeons who replied to the survey. Aspects of technique varied considerably and studies to determine optimal techniques are needed. Serious complications with the technique were rare.

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