Foam sclerotherapy could save the NHS £millions. That is the conclusion of a large clinical study carried out in the Netherlands. The findings are reported in the August2012 issue of the British Journal of Surgery. Two hundred and thirty patients were treated by ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy and compared with 200 patients who had had their veins treated by surgical stripping. Two years after treatment the improvement in both groups was similar. However, replacing surgery by ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy would result in cost reductions of more than €1000 per patient.
So why isn’t foam sclerotherapy widely available in the NHS? Well, like many treatments, there appears to be “a postcode lottery”. This means, that in certain areas such as Birmingham, foam sclerotherapy has virtually replaced surgery completely while in other areas such as Bath, surgery continues to be the first choice for treatment. This reflects the personal opinions of the vascular surgeons in that particular area. At present, there isn’t a national strategy in the NHS for the treatment of varicose veins. This may change–NICE (The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) is in the process of reviewing the effectiveness of ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy and its place in the NHS. Hopefully, foam sclerotherapy will get the recognition it deserves.
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Reference: British Journal of Surgery, August 2012, pages 1062-1070