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Phlebology. 2013 Mar;28 Suppl 1:141-7. doi: 10.1177/0268355512475118.

The European burden of primary varicose veins.

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Academic Section of Vascular Surgery, Department of Surgery & Cancer, Imperial College School of Medicine, Charing Cross Hospital, Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8RF, UK.



The treatment of varicose veins has been demonstrated to improve quality of life, alleviate symptoms of depression and treat the complications of venous disease. This study aims to show the studies which contain information regarding the prevalence and distribution of venous disease. Then using the population and prevalence data for venous disease, and considering the cost of treating varicose veins, this study aims to analyse the treatment of varicose veins and assess whether there is a disparity between European countries.


Relevant papers regarding the prevalence or incidence of venous disease were identified through searches of PubMed (1966 to October 2010). The search terms 'prevalence OR incidence' AND 'varicose veins or venous disease' were used. Population data, prevalence data and the number of varicose vein procedures performed in each country was obtained for 2010.


Four studies were included. From calculated values comparing the predicted and actual number of patients requiring treatment for venous disease, the UK, Finland and Sweden are potentially not treating all patients with C2 disease. In contrast to this, all other European countries represented are treating more patients, suggesting that they may be treating additional patients. There was up to a four-fold difference in the numbers of procedures per million population that were performed for varicose veins in different European countries.


There is a marked disparity across Europe between the predicted number of patients with varicose veins requiring treatment and the actual care given. The factors influencing this need more detailed investigation.

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