Improving the management of varicose veins

The Practitioner 11/2013; 257(1766):21-4, 2-3.
Source: PubMed


Up to 30% of the UK population are affected by varicose veins. They are a manifestation of increased venous pressure in the lower limb caused by impaired venous return. Primary varicosities result from poor drainage from the superficial to the deep venous system. Secondary varicosities arise as a result of underlying pathology impeding venous drainage, such as deep venous thrombosis or increased intra-abdominal pressure caused by a mass, pregnancy or obesity. Patients with bleeding varicose veins should be referred to a vascular service immediately. Referral is also indicated in the following cases: symptomatic primary or recurrent varicose veins; lower limb skin changes thought to be caused by chronic venous insufficiency; superficial vein thrombosis and suspected venous incompetence; a venous leg ulcer or healed venous leg ulcer. Imaging is crucial in the assessment of the superficial and deep venous system to enable assessment of venous competence. The gold standard imaging technique is colour duplex ultrasonography. Duplex ultrasound should be used to confirm the diagnosis of varicose veins and the extent of truncal reflux, and to plan treatment for patients with suspected primary or recurrent varicose veins. Superficial vein ligation, phlebectomy and stripping have been the mainstay of treatment. In recent years, new techniques have been developed that are minimally invasive, enabling treatment of superficial venous incompetence with reduced morbidity. NICE recommends that endothermal ablation, in the form of radiofrequency or laser treatment, should be offered as treatment for patients with confirmed varicose veins and truncal reflux.

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    ABSTRACT: Background: Incidences of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) on the lower extremities in elderly patients are rising. Surgical approaches to the treatment of BCC are subject to possible difficulties in healing, failure of skin grafts, and wound infection. This study assessed the efficacy of intralesional cryosurgery in the treatment of BCC of the lower limbs in elderly patients. Methods: This study included eight patients aged >60 years in whom a total of 10 nodular or superficial BCCs of the lower limbs were confirmed by biopsy. The patients' medical histories revealed comorbidities including hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, venous insufficiency, and deep vein thrombosis of the legs, congestive heart failure, chronic renal failure, and ischemic heart disease. Using liquid nitrogen, an intralesional cryosurgery needle (CryoShape) was inserted into the tumor to facilitate its complete freezing. Treatment success was confirmed by biopsy taken approximately 3 months after complete healing of the cryo-wound. Results: The average size of the lesions treated was 2.49 cm(2) (16.4 × 15.2 mm). Mean recovery time was 79.9 days. Biopsies were obtained at a mean of 85.3 days after the wound had healed. All 10 biopsies verified the complete destruction of the tumor. There was no evidence of wound infection or tumor recurrence over a follow-up period of 28 months. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that a single intralesional cryosurgery session can completely eradicate BCC on the lower extremities in elderly patients. This technique is associated with relatively minor complications, is well tolerated, and represents a safe and effective therapeutic modality for BCC of the lower limbs.
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