Unexpected major role for venous stenting in deep reflux disease

Seshadri Raju, Rikki Darcey, Peter Neglén
Journal of Vascular Surgery 2010, 51 (2): 401-8; discussion 408

BACKGROUND: Treatment of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) has largely focused on reflux. Minimally-invasive techniques to address superficial and perforator reflux have evolved, but correction of deep reflux continues to be challenging. The advent of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) scan and minimally invasive venous stent technology have renewed interest in the obstructive component in CVI pathophysiology. The aim of this study is to assess stent-related and clinical outcomes following treatment by iliac venous stenting alone in limbs with a combination of iliac vein obstruction and deep venous reflux.

METHODS: A total of 528 limbs in 504 patients, ranging in age from 15 to 87, underwent IVUS-guided iliac vein stent placement to correct obstruction over an 11-year period. The etiology of obstruction was nonthrombotic in 196 (37%), post-thrombotic in 285 (54%) limbs, and combined in 47 (9%). Clinical severity class of CEAP was C3 in 44%, C(4,5) in 27%, and C6 in 25% of stented limbs. Deep venous reflux was present in all limbs, associated with superficial and/or perforator reflux in 69%. Reflux was severe in 309/528 (59%) limbs (reflux multisegment score > or = 3) and 224/528 (42%) limbs had axial reflux. Venography and other functional tests had poor diagnostic sensitivity to detect obstruction, which was ultimately diagnosed by IVUS. The IVUS-guided iliac vein stenting was the only procedure performed and the associated reflux was left uncorrected.

RESULTS: There was no mortality; morbidity was minor. Cumulative secondary stent patency was 88% at 5 years; no stent occlusions occurred in nonthrombotic limbs. Cumulative rates of limbs with healed active ulcers, freedom of ulcer recurrence in legs with healed ulcers (C5), and freedom from leg dermatitis at 5 years were 54%, 88%, and 81%, respectively. Cumulative rate of substantial improvement of pain and swelling at 5 years was 78% and 55%, respectively. Quality of life improved significantly. Reflux parameters did not deteriorate after stenting.

CONCLUSION: Iliac venous stenting alone is sufficient to control symptoms in the majority of patients with combined outflow obstruction and deep reflux. Partial correction of the pathophysiology in limbs with multisystem or multilevel disease can provide substantial symptom relief. Percutaneous stent technology in concert with other minimally-invasive techniques to address superficial and/or perforator reflux offers such partial correction in limbs with advanced CVI and complex venous pathology. Open correction of obstruction or reflux is now required only infrequently as a "last resort".

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