Endoluminal thermal ablation versus stripping of the saphenous vein: Meta-analysis of recurrence of reflux

Eleftherios S. Xenos, Gabriel Bietz, David J. Minion, Nick N. Abedi, Ehab E. Sorial, Nick Karagiorgos, Eric D. Endean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Catheter-based minimally invasive techniques developed to treat saphenous vein insufficiency include endovenous laser and radiofrequency ablation. Their long-term results are under evaluation. A meta-analysis of trials was performed, comparing endovenous versus surgical saphenous vein ablation with focus on long-term (greater than 365 days) outcomes of recurrence of varicosities, reflux and symptomatic disease. METHODS: A systematic search of published studies reporting on the treatment of varicose veins was performed. The databases searched included Medline/PubMed, OVID, EMBASE, CINAHL, ClinicalTrials.gov, the Cochrane central register of controlled trials and the Cochrane database of systematic reviews. Search terms included saphenous vein ligation, stripping, radiofrequency ablation, laser ablation and endovenous ablation. Reports in all languages from 1966 to 2009 were considered. The 'related articles' function was used to broaden the search. All article titles, abstracts and subject headings were screened by one reviewer for potential relevance. Abstracts of articles selected by title were read online to reduce the number of articles for full-text examination. Finally, additional titles were sought in the bibliographies of the retrieved articles. Only studies reporting outcomes after more than 365 days were selected. Analyzed outcomes included recurrence of varicosities and reflux, as documented by duplex ultrasound, and recurrence of signs and symptoms. Data extraction was performed from life tables, text or graphs. Statistical analysis was performed using the commercially available software CMA Version 2 (Biostat Inc, USA). The random effects model was used to calculate the ORs and 95% CIs. Statistical heterogeneity was evaluated using the Q value and considered present if P<0.05. RESULTS: Eight randomized controlled trials were included; these reported on 497 patients. Two hundred twenty-six patients underwent ligation and stripping and 271 underwent endoluminal thermal ablation. The mean (± SD) follow-up period was 584±182 days. There was no difference in the age and sex distribution between the groups. There was no difference in the long-term recurrence rate between the two techniques (OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.48 to 1.9, P=0.9). Statistical heterogeneity was not significant (Q value P=0.5) and publication bias was limited. CONCLUSIONS: The analysis indicates that catheter-based treatments and traditional venous stripping with high ligation have similar long-term results. Establishing preoperative criteria for each method may improve outcomes but presently neither technique appears to confer an advantage in terms of mid- to long-term freedom from recurrent symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-78
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Angiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Endovenous ablation
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Varicose veins
  • Vein reflux

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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