A study to compare two increasingly popular treatments for varicose veins has found that patients who received radiofrequency ablation reported less post-procedural pain than those treated with endovenous laser ablation.
However, both groups reported the same clinical and quality of life improvements at six weeks, according to UK research published in the June issue of the British Journal of Surgery.
"Varicose veins are a very common condition that occurs when the blood flow to the legs is interrupted and collects in the veins" explains principal investigator Professor Alun Davies from Imperial College, London. "It's estimated that as many as 30 per cent of adults in the UK will suffer from the condition at some point in their lives."
Vascular surgery experts from the College randomised 131 patients into two groups, with 64 receiving endovenous laser ablation 980nm (EVLA) and 67 receiving radiofrequency ablation (RFA) using VNUS ClosureFAST.
All the procedures were carried out under general anaesthetic between July 2008 and July 2009 by one of three surgeons experienced in both techniques. The 89 female and 42 male patients were then asked to fill in diary cards recording pain levels, based on a visual analogue scale from zero to 100, and note any analgesia use.
The patients had an average age of 49 and there were no statistically significant differences in other factors such as their body mass index and the pattern of the disease between the two surgical groups.
"Radiofrequency and endovenous ablation are minimally invasive techniques and their development has revolutionised the treatment of varicose veins" says Professor Davies. "Perceived advantages over traditional surgery include fewer complications, minimal post procedural pain and faster recovery times.
"Their use has steadily increased in the UK since 2001, when the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence - which advises the National Health Service - approved their use."
Key findings of the study included:
"Our study showed that patients experience less post procedural pain with the VNUS ClosureFAST than the 980nm EVLA" says Professor Davies.
"Newer radial fibres and longer laser wavelengths have been developed for EVLA and are likely to replace the 980nm bare tip laser fibre. We await the results of randomised trials using these with interest."
|Contact: Annette Whibley|