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J Vasc Nurs. 1999 Sep;17(3):65-70.

A new approach to an old and vexing problem: subfascial endoscopic perforator surgery.

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Veterans Administration Medical Center, Reno, Nevada 89520, USA.


Chronic venous insufficiency with venous hypertension causes leukocyte trapping, lipodermatosclerosis, and finally, skin ulceration involving the lower extremity. Perforator vein incompetence has been identified as an important contributing factor to ulceration when abnormally elevated pressure is transmitted to areas of affected skin, usually at the ankle medially. Surgical techniques for ligation of incompetent communication veins were first popularized by Linton and Dodd from 1940 to 1950. Early techniques used extensive longitudinal incisions for subfascial ligation through indurated skin. These procedures were plagued with wound complications: delayed healing, skin necrosis, and infection. Techniques continued to evolve that used minimally invasive incisions and avoided zones of affected skin. With the availability of endoscopic, fiberoptic, and laparoscopic advances in surgery, instrumentation has been developed for minimally invasive endoscopic approach to accomplish subfascia endoscopic perforator surgery (SEPS) under direct vision. SEPS is now used alone and in combination with other venous interventions to reduce transmission of venous hypertension to affected skin areas. The SEPS procedure, its indications, and the history of surgical treatment of perforator vein incompetence are discussed. Unique problems related to short hospital stays and postoperative care are outlined. This review will help the vascular nurse understand the rationale and techniques of SEPS. This comprehension will enable provision of accurate information to the patient and a knowledge-based plan of care.

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