The aim was to explore the current experience and practice of vascular surgeons in the United Kingdom and Ireland regarding foam sclerotherapy for varicose veins.
A postal questionnaire was sent to 609 members of the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
There were 281 responses (47%). Seventy surgeons (25%) used foam sclerotherapy. Most use it selectively; few (29%) offer it to all patients. It was more likely to be used for recurrent varices (71%), in older patients (61%) and for smaller non-saphenous varices (67%). The majority of surgeons (69%) used sodium tetradecyl sulphate and up to a maximum of 10e12 ml of foam. The majority used ultrasound guidance (95%), leg elevation (69%) and direct pressure over the saphenofemoral or saphenopopliteal junction during injection (63%). Eighty per cent used compression bandaging after treatment, usually for 7 days (44%). Ninety percent advised compression stockings, usually Class II (64%) for 14 days (39%). Serious complications were few, but eleven surgeons had seen a deep vein thrombosis, two had seen a patient with a stroke and one a transient ischaemic attack.
Foam sclerotherapy was used by a quarter of surgeons who replied to the survey. Aspects of technique varied considerably and studies to determine optimal techniques are needed. Serious complications with the technique were rare.