Analysis of venous thromboembolic events after saphenous ablation

Jaime Benarroch-Gampel, Kristin M. Sheffield, Casey A. Boyd, Taylor S. Riall, Lois A. Killewich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Venous thromboembolic events after saphenous vein ablation procedures for varicose veins have been reported. Current knowledge of these events is based on single-institution studies or studies with small numbers of patients. Methods: The National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database (2005-2009) was used to identify 3874 patients who underwent radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) of the saphenous veins with or without stab phlebectomy. Outcome variables included documented postoperative deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to identify factors associated with venous thromboembolic events after ablation procedures. Results: Procedures for lower extremity varicose veins included RFA in 2897 patients (74.8%) and EVLA in 977 (25.2%). Patients who underwent RFA were more likely to be older, obese, diabetic, hypertensive, and to have undergone procedures involving more than one vein (24% vs 4%; P < 0001). Patients who underwent EVLA were more likely to have received general anesthesia (56.9% vs 40.8%; P < .0001) and to have undergone concomitant stab phlebectomy (44.9% vs 31.7%; P < .0001). The incidences of DVT (1.74% vs 1.52%; P = .63) and pulmonary embolus (0.07% vs 0%; P > .99) were similar between EVLA and RFA. No significant predictors of DVT in the postoperative period were identified on bivariate or multivariate analyses. In the subgroup of 2514 patients who underwent ablation procedures without stab phlebectomy, those undergoing EVLA showed a trend toward a higher incidence of DVT (2.6% vs 1.4%; P = .057). After adjusting for patient demographics, DVT was 2.4 times more likely to develop in patients presenting with lower extremity ulcers than in those without ulcers (odds ratio, 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-6.11; P = .04). Although not statistically significant, the multivariate model found that when only ablation procedures were performed, EVLA was associated with an 83% increase in odds of DVT compared with RFA (odds ratio, 1.83; 95% confidence interval, 0.95-3.52; P = .06). Conclusions: The incidence of venous thromboembolic events after saphenous ablation is low. However, given that patients with lower extremity ulcers experienced an increased risk of DVT, care should be taken to ensure that the ablation catheter is positioned an appropriate distance from the saphenofemoral or sapheno-popliteal junction and that periprocedural preventative measures, such as anticoagulation prophylaxis, early ambulation, and lower extremity compression, are emphasized. The finding of a trend toward increased venous thromboembolic events in patients undergoing EVLA warrants further investigation in a large patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Analysis of venous thromboembolic events after saphenous ablation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this