Superficial thrombophlebitis of the legs: a randomized, controlled, follow-up study

G Belcaro, A N Nicolaides, B M Errichi, M R Cesarone, M T De Sanctis, L Incandela, R Venniker
Angiology 1999, 50 (7): 523-9
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of different treatment plans (compression only, early surgery, low-dose subcutaneous heparin [LDSH], low-molecular-weight heparin [LMWH], and oral anticoagulant [OC] treatment) in the management of superficial thrombophlebitis (STP), by considering efficacy and costs in a 6-month, randomized, follow-up trial. Patients with STP, with large varicose veins without any suspected/documented systemic disorder, were included. Criteria for inclusion were as follows: presence of varicose veins; venous incompetence (by duplex); a tender, indurated cord along a superficial vein; and redness and heat in the affected area. All patients were ambulatory. Exclusion criteria were obesity, cardiovascular or neoplastic diseases, bone/joint disease, problems requiring immobilization, and age > 70 years. Patients with superficial thrombophlebitis without varicose veins and patients under treatment with drugs at referral were also excluded. Color duplex (CD) was used to detect concomitant deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and to evaluate the extension or reduction of STP at 3 and 6 months. Venography was not used. Of 562 patients included, 3.5% had had a recent DVT in the same limb affected by SVT and 2.1% in the contralateral limb. In six patients DVT was present in both limbs. These patients were treated with anticoagulants and excluded from the follow-up. After 3 and 6 months the incidence of STP extension was higher in the elastic compression and in the saphenous ligation groups (p < 0.05). There was no significant difference in DVT incidence at 3 months among the treatment groups. Stripping of the affected veins was associated with the lowest incidence of thrombus extension. The cost for compression alone was the lowest and the cost including LMWH was the highest. The average cost was 1,383 US$. However the highest social cost (lost working days, inactivity) was observed in subjects treated only with stockings.

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