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Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet]. York (UK): Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK); 1995-.

Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet].

Neurological complications of sclerotherapy for varicose veins

Review published: 2012.

Bibliographic details: Sarvananthan T, Shepherd AC, Willenberg T, Davies AH.  Neurological complications of sclerotherapy for varicose veins. Journal of Vascular Surgery 2012; 55(1): 243-251. [PubMed: 21840152]


BACKGROUND: Sclerotherapy has been shown to be an effective and increasingly popular therapeutic strategy for the treatment of varicose veins. However, recent reports of serious side effects, including cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) and transient ischemic attacks (TIA), as well as speech and visual disturbances, have caused serious concern regarding its use. This review evaluated the reported incidences of neurological side effects associated with the use of sclerotherapy.

METHODS: A systematic search of the data bases MEDLINE, OVID Embase, and Google Scholar was undertaken by two independent reviewers. Articles reporting neurological side effects in humans following foam and liquid sclerotherapy were included; animal studies, laboratory studies, and review articles were excluded. Additional references were also obtained using the related articles function.

RESULTS: The search yielded 1023 articles, of which 41 studies were found to meet the inclusion criteria. A total of 10,819 patients undergoing sclerotherapy were reviewed. There were 12 case reports of CVA with confirmatory brain imaging and nine reports of TIA. There were 97 (0.90%) reports of neurological events overall, including TIA, visual and speech disturbances, and 29 cases of reported migraine (0.27%). Symptoms occurred at times ranging from minutes to several days following sclerotherapy. Eleven patients with TIA or CVA were found to have a right to left cardiac shunt, usually a patent foramen ovale.

CONCLUSIONS: Neurological side effects following sclerotherapy are a rare occurrence; however, CVA associated with the use of sclerotherapy is clearly documented. The pathologic mechanisms resulting in CVA are likely to be different to those leading to migraine and visual disturbances; however, care should be exercised in patient selection, particularly in those with known cardiac defects.

Copyright © 2012 Society for Vascular Surgery. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

CRD has determined that this article meets the DARE scientific quality criteria for a systematic review.

Copyright © 2014 University of York.

PMID: 21840152

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