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J Vasc Surg. 2000 Nov;32(5):902-12.

Management of symptomatic and asymptomatic popliteal venous aneurysms: a retrospective analysis of 25 patients and review of the literature.

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Service de Chirurgie Vasculaire, CHU Grenoble; and Service de Chirurgie Vasculaire, Clinique du Grand Large Decines, Grenoble, France.



Popliteal venous aneurysms (PVAs) are an uncommon but potentially life-threatening disease because they can be a source for pulmonary emboli (PE). With the widespread use of venous duplex scanning, PVAs are increasingly found in patients with deep or superficial vein insufficiency, and questions have arisen as to the management of these aneurysms. The purpose of this study was to review our experience in the management of PVAs diagnosed in patients with PE and in patients with chronic venous diseases.


Twenty-five patients with PVAs were treated in two centers between 1985 and 1999. There were 20 women and five men, with an average age ranging from 33 to 79 years (mean age, 59 years). Twenty-four percent (6/25) presented with PE, and 76% (19/25) of PVAs were discovered during investigation for chronic venous disease (varicosities, n = 13; post-thrombotic symptoms, n = 6). The diagnosis of PVA was achieved in all cases with venous duplex scanning and phlebography. Aneurysms were located in the proximal popliteal vein (n = 17) and at the saphenopopliteal junction (n = 8). Seventy-two percent (18/25) of PVAs were saccular, and 40% (10/25) had an intraluminal thrombus. Two patients with PE underwent cardiac arrest, with one requiring a pulmonary embolectomy. The Fisher exact test showed a statistically significant correlation between PE and the presence of thrombus (50% vs 7% without thrombus, P =.02). Aneurysms were treated with tangential aneurysmectomy and lateral venorrhaphy (n = 19), resection with end-to-end anastomosis (n = 2), resection with interposition of the greater saphenous vein (n = 2) or the superficial femoral vein (n = 1), and resection with vein transposition (n = 1). Two patients who experienced a PE had an inferior vena cava filter placement before surgical repair of the PVA.


Mean follow-up was 63 months (range, 11-168 months). No operative deaths occurred, and no patient had evidence of a recurrent PE. Postoperative minor complications (20%) included transient common peroneal nerve palsy (n = 2), postoperative hematoma (n = 2), and wound infection (n = 1). Postoperative thrombosis of the surgical repair occurred in three patients, and patency was restored with anticoagulation therapy.


Despite its rarity, PVAs should be ruled out with venous duplex scanning in patients with PE and in patients presenting with chronic venous diseases. Because of the unpredictable risk of thromboembolic complications, surgical treatment that is accompanied by a low morbidity rate is indicated in all PVAs. Tangential aneurysmectomy with lateral venorrhaphy is the procedure of choice.

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