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Phlebology. 2014 May;29(1 suppl):61-65. Epub 2014 May 19.

Influence of the competence of the sapheno-femoral junction on the mode of treatment of varicose veins by surgery.

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Riviera Vein Institut, Nice, France
Riviera Vein Institut, Nice, France.



It is usually agreed that incompetence of the sapheno-femoral junction (SFJ) is the main indication for stripping or ablation of the great saphenous vein (GSV) in the treatment of varicose veins (VVs). We wanted to test this assumption in our surgical treatment of varicose veins.


Study design: retrospective study of the surgical procedures for VVs in our centre between January and October 2012 in patients with reflux in the GSV. The SFJ was considered to be incompetent when both terminal and pre-terminal valves were assessed as incompetent by duplex ultrasound duplex imaging. We compared the preoperative clinical and haemodynamic data according to the surgical procedure performed.


We reviewed a total of 389 LLs operated on for VVs in which reflux was present in the GSV. The SFJ was incompetent preoperatively in 189 LLs (48.6%). The GSV was treated in 78 cases (20.1%) stripping in 24 cases and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in 54 cases, while phlebectomy with preservation of the GSV (ASVAL = Ambulatory Selective Varices Ablation under Local Anaesthesia) was done in the 311 remaining cases (79.9%). Incompetence of the SFJ led to stripping or RFA of the GSV in 38.1% of the cases only. Treatment by stripping or RFA was associated with male gender (50% vs 18.9% P < 0.01 χ2), an older age (62.5 vs 53.1 yrs P < 0.01 t-test), a greater body mass index (BMI) (26.1 vs 23.8 P < 0.01 t-test), a higher frequency of CEAP Class C4 to C6 (33.3% vs 4.8% P < 0.01 χ2), a higher frequency of symptoms (94.4% vs 73.6% P < 0.01 χ2) and a greater diameter of the GSV at the thigh (8.1 vs 5.2 mm P < 0.01 t-test). At last the presence of a focal dilatation of the GSV and an extension of the reflux below the lower half of the calf were also more frequent in case of stripping or RFA (respectively 55.6% vs 10.3% and 84.6% vs 18.3% P < 0.01 χ2).


An incompetent SFJ was not the only clinical feature which determined the choice for preservation or ablation of the GSV in patients with varicose veins. In our experience a greater age, a higher BMI, the presence of trophic skin changes, extension of the reflux below the knee and a more damaged GSV trunk were also taken into account in order to decide whether to ablate or to preserve the GSV.


Varicose veins; sapheno-femoral reflux; superficial venous insufficiency


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