Foam sclerotherapy is a potential treatment for lower limb venous disease.
A systematic review, with no restriction on study design, to assess the safety and efficacy of foam sclerotherapy.
67 studies were included. For serious adverse events including pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis, the median event rates were less than 1%. Median rate for visual disturbance was 1.4%. Median rates for some other adverse events were more common, including headache (4.2%), thrombophlebitis (4.7%), matting/skin staining/pigmentation (17.8%) and pain at the site of injection (25.6%). Median rate for complete occlusion of treated veins was 87.0% and for recurrence or development of new veins was 8.1%. Evidence from meta-analysis for complete occlusion suggests that foam sclerotherapy is associated with a lower rate compared with with surgery (RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.67 to 1.10) and a higher rate compared with liquid sclerotherapy (RR 1.39, 95% CI 0.91 to 2.11). However, there was substantial heterogeneity across the studies in the meta-analysis.
Serious adverse events were rare. A high quality RCT with follow-up of at least three years is required to determine the comparative effectiveness of foam sclerotherapy and its place in clinical practice.