A comparison of below-knee vs above-knee endovenous ablation of varicose veins

Halbert Bai, Vishal Gokani, Jason B. Storch, Pavel Kibrik, Faisal Aziz, Ulka Sachdev, Eri Fukaya, Cassius Iyad Ochoa Chaar, Andrea T. Obi, Windsor Ting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Varicose veins have a significant impact on quality of life and can commonly occur in the thigh and calves. However, there has been no large-scale investigation examining the relationship between anatomic distribution and outcomes after varicose vein treatment. This study sought to compare below-the-knee (BTK) and above-the-knee (ATK) varicose vein treatment outcomes. Methods: Employing the Vascular Quality Initiative Varicose Vein Registry, 13,731 patients undergoing varicose vein ablation for either BTK or ATK lesions were identified. Outcomes were assessed using patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and the Venous Clinical Severity Score (VCSS). Continuous variables were compared using the t-test, and categorical variables were analyzed using the χ2 test. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate the odds of improvement after intervention. The multivariable model controlled for age, gender, race, preoperative VCSS composite score, and history of deep vein thrombosis. Results: Patients who received below-knee treatment had a lower preoperative VCSS composite (7.0 ± 3.3 vs 7.7 ± 3.3; P < .001) and lower PROs composite scores (11.1 ± 6.4 vs 13.0 ± 6.6; P < .001) compared with those of patients receiving above-knee treatment. However, on follow-up, patients receiving below-knee intervention had a higher postoperative VCSS composite score (4.4 ± 3.3 vs 3.9 ± 3.5; P < .001) and PROs composite score (6.1 ± 4.4 vs 5.8 ± 4.5; P = .007), the latter approaching statistical significance. Patients receiving above-knee interventions also demonstrated more improvement in both composite VCSS (3.8 ± 4.0 vs 2.9 ± 3.7; P < .001) and PROs (7.1 ± 6.8 vs 4.8 ± 6.6; P < .001). Multivariable logistic regression analysis similarly revealed that patients receiving above-knee treatment had significantly higher odds of improvement in VCSS composite in both the unadjusted (odds ratio [OR], 1.45; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.28-1.65; P < .001 and adjusted (OR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.14-1.50; P < .001) models. Patients receiving above-knee treatment also had a significantly higher odds of reporting improvement in PROs composite in both the unadjusted (OR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.64-2.11; P < .001) and adjusted (OR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.45-1.88; P < .001) models. Conclusions: Treatment region has a significant association with PROs and VCSS composite scores after varicose vein interventions. Preoperatively, there were significant differences in the composite scores of VCSS and PROs with patients receiving BTK treatment exhibiting less severe symptoms. Yet, the association appeared to reverse postoperatively, with those receiving BTK treatments exhibiting worse PROs, worse VCSS composites scores, and less improvement in VCSS composite scores. Therefore, BTK interventions pose a unique challenge compared with ATK interventions in ensuring commensurate clinical improvement after treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101679
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Issue number2
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Chronic venous disease
  • Treatment region
  • Varicose veins
  • Vascular Quality Initiative


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