Factors associated with saphenous vein recanalization after endothermal ablation

Avianne P. Bunnell, Shariq Zaidi, J. Leigh Eidson, W. Todd Bohannon, Marvin D. Atkins, Ruth L. Bush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Endovenous thermal ablation has emerged as an alternative therapy for the treatment of chronic superficial venous insufficiency (CVI) of the lower extremities. Recanalization, or anatomic failure, of a vein after endovenous radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has been described, albeit an infrequent occurrence. This study was performed to demonstrate risk factors associated with the efficacy of RFA and recanalization in the treatment of CVI. Methods Data were collected in an ongoing multicenter registry, which was retrospectively reviewed. This study reviewed 249 limbs that underwent RFA of either the great saphenous vein (GSV) or the small saphenous vein (SSV) over a three-year period, including only patients for whom an intermediate (6 month) follow-up venous duplex ultrasound was available. Patients in whom recanalization was demonstrated via duplex (n = 17, 6.8%) were analyzed for patient-level characteristics. Logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the existence of any significant clinical risk factors associated with anatomic failure. The need for secondary interventions because of clinical symptoms associated with recanalization was analyzed as well. Results In this cohort, the initial vein occlusion rate was 93.1%. Segmental (n = 9, 53%) or complete (n = 8, 47%) recanalization was seen in 17 limbs (6.8%) after initial successful GSV ablation. All SSV remained persistently ablated. Anatomic failure was associated with higher rate of clinical symptom recurrence (41% vs. 21%; relative risk (RR), 2.75; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.99-7.6; P < 0.05) and an increased need for secondary vein procedures in the affected limbs (35% vs. 12%; RR, 3.96; 95% CI, 1.3-11.7; P < 0.05). Two recanalized GSVs required repeated endothermal ablation, in efforts to aid in the healing of ulcerations. Patient factors including diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, anticoagulation or antiplatelet agent usage, presence of deep venous reflux, or tobacco use did not increase the risk of RFA failure. Comparatively, patients with GSV recanalization had a longer mean follow-up time (63.3 vs. 41.6 weeks) but no difference in disease severity (C4, 35% vs. 17%; C5, 18% vs. 15%; C6, 6% vs. 8%; not significant). Conclusions Endothermal ablation is an efficacious treatment for CVI with most patients remaining reflux free. Recanalization of an isolated vein segment after RFA, although shown in recent literature to be effected by anatomic risk factors, appears to be a sporadic phenomenon with respect to clinical risk factors. Nevertheless, in our cohort, anatomic failure was associated with a 2-fold increase in symptom recurrence and the need for interval secondary vein procedures. Ultrasound interrogation is recommended especially in patients with persistent or recurrent symptoms or nonhealing ulcerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-327
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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