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Br J Surg. 2006 Feb;93(2):175-81.

Randomized clinical trial comparing surgery with conservative treatment for uncomplicated varicose veins.

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Sheffield Vascular Institute, Northern General Hospital, University of Sheffield, Herries Road, Sheffield S5 7AU, UK.



Surgical treatment of medically uncomplicated varicose veins is common, but its clinical effectiveness remains uncertain.


A randomized clinical trial was carried out at two large acute National Health Service hospitals in different parts of the UK (Sheffield and Exeter). Some 246 patients were recruited from 536 consecutive referrals to vascular outpatient clinics with uncomplicated varicose veins suitable for surgical treatment. Conservative management, consisting of lifestyle advice, was compared with surgical treatment (flush ligation of sites of reflux, stripping of the long saphenous vein and multiple phlebectomies, as appropriate). Changes in health status were measured using the Short Form (SF) 6D and EuroQol (EQ) 5D, quality of life instruments based on SF-36 and EuroQol, complications of treatment, symptomatic measures, anatomical extent of varicose veins and patient satisfaction.


In the first 2 years after treatment there was a significant quality of life benefit for surgery of 0.083 (95 per cent confidence interval (c.i.) 0.005 to 0.16) quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) based on the SF-6D score and 0.13 (95 per cent c.i. 0.016 to 0.25) based on the EQ-5D score. Significant benefits were also seen in symptomatic and anatomical measures.


Surgical treatment provides symptomatic relief and significant improvements in quality of life in patients referred to secondary care with uncomplicated varicose veins.

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