Classical varicose vein surgery in a diverse ethnic community.Med J Malaysia. 2008 Aug; 63(3):193-8.MJ
Chronic venous disorders range from telangiactasia or spider veins to varicose veins, venous swellings, skin changes and venous ulcerations. The aim of this study is to assess outcome of varicose vein surgery in the ethnically diverse population of Penang, Malaysia. This study is a retrospective analysis of patients seen from 1999 to 2004. All patients who presented to the outpatient clinic of our surgical department with saphenofemoral junction (SFJ) and/or saphenopopliteal junction (SPJ) reflux associated with incompetence of the great saphenous vein (GSV) or small saphenous vein (SSV) respectively underwent classical varicose varicose vein surgery. A single surgeon at a single institution performed the surgeries. Data from pre-operative, post-operative and follow-up procedures were recorded in case report forms. A total of 202 cases were treated. Of these, 200 were qualified by the inclusion criteria and follow-ups, with 23 who were treated bilaterally. Of those treated, Chinese comprised 47.5%, Indians 27.0%, Malays 12.5% and foreigners 13.0% (largely Indonesian Chinese, British and Americans). The average age was 52.1 years. Indians had the highest average BMI of 29.2, compared to the Chinese who had the lowest of 24.6. Based on occupation, housewives (43.0%), blue collar workers (19.0%), salespersons (12.0%) and factory workers (9.5%) were among those afflicted with varicose veins. While local Chinese predominated in the business groups (salespersons and food-related workers), the Indians and Malays in this study were mainly factory workers and/or blue collar workers. Symptomatology in descending order of severity included pain in 80.0% of cases, swelling in 65.5%, heaviness in 53.5%, cramps in 53.0%, lipodermatosclerosis in 39.0%, superficial thrombophlebitis in 33.5%, venous ulceration in 32.0%, eczema 22.0% and cellulitis in 12.5% of patients. Post surgery pains dropped to 9.9%, cramps 6.4%, heaviness 5.5% and swelling 5.3% (p<0.0001 in all groups). Indians had the highest rate of venous ulcers (35.2% of all Indians treated) possibly due to their high BMI and low socioeconomic background. In cases of venous ulcers, gram negative infections (49.8%) were more common than gram positive infections at 18.8%. Operative procedures performed included great saphenous vein high ligation in 96.5% of cases, stripping 93.5% and multiple avulsions in 98.5%, saphenous popliteal junction ligation with multiple avulsions in 13.0% and subfascial ligation in 10.5%. Operative complications included induration (40.0% of cases), bruising in 49.5%, pains in 15.0%, paraesthesia in 3.5%, wound infection in 4.0%, deep venous thrombosis in 3.0% and ulcer recurrence in 7.5%. A total of 96.2% of patients treated expressed satisfaction with varicose vein surgery. Late presentations of chronic venous insufficiency, possibly as a result of poor understanding and inadequate education on diet, weight control, use of stockings and change in lifestyle by patients, employers and general practitioners are probably the cause of high rates of severe chronic venous disease especially venous ulcerations in the local community. However, classical varicose vein surgery is widely applicable across diverse ethnicities with a high rate of success.