Surgical treatments for chronic deep venous insufficiency

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Objective: The aim of this study was to critically appraise and synthesize the published evidence regarding the short- and long-term efficacy/effectiveness of surgical techniques for patients with deep venous insufficiency (DVI) refractory to other forms of management. Methods: All original, published studies on non-pregnant human patients undergoing treatment for deep or mixed deep/superficial/perforator chronic venous insufficiency were identified by systematically searching PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library, Science Citation Index and the websites of various health technology assessment agencies, research registers and guidelines sites, from January 1990 to July 2003. No language restriction was applied. Results: A total of two randomized controlled trials and 12 non-randomized comparative studies reported on a variety of procedures ranging from superficial venous surgery (SVS) and subfascial endoscopic perforator surgery (SEPS), through to deep venous reconstruction (including valvuloplasty, transplantation and transposition) for the treatment of DVI. Limited evidence suggested that combined SVS/valvuloplasty is a relatively safe procedure that is potentially more effective than SVS alone in preventing ulcer recurrence in patients with primary DVI in both the short- and mid-term. Evidence for the efficacy of valvuloplasty, bypass, transplantation, SEPS and iliac stenting in the treatment of DVI was inconclusive. The optimal surgery for patients with deep venous obstruction or secondary valvular incompetence remains unclear. Conclusions: It is unlikely that a large randomized, or even non-randomized, controlled trial will be conducted to ascertain the safety and efficacy of surgery for DVI. However, standardized reporting and collection of data in a registry would be a move forward. In addition, professional bodies should consider providing guidance, in the form of an evidence-based treatment algorithm, that would define when to perform SVS in patients with mixed or deep venous insufficiency and what type of deep venous surgery is considered appropriate for different indications. A prime focus of future research may be to understand why less invasive treatments have failed in patients requiring surgery for DVI and to identify those patients who would benefit most from early surgical intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-119
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Systematic review
  • Venous incompetence
  • Venous obstruction
  • Venous surgery


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