Axial transformation of the profunda femoris vein

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Abstract

Purpose:

To highlight a special subset of cases of venous stasis in which the profunda femoris vein enlarges to a variable extent (axial transformation) to compensate for severe postthrombotic changes in the accompanying superficial femoral vein.

Methods:

Among 500 consecutively treated patients with severe venous stasis, 57 patients had axial transformation of the profunda femoris vein. Venous obstruction and reflux were assessed by means of arm-foot pressure differential, ambulatory venous pressure measurement, air plethysmography, and duplex examination. Ascending and descending venograms also were obtained. A variety of valve reconstruction techniques were useful in correcting reflux in the enlarged profunda femoris vein and the companion postthrombotic superficial femoral vein.

Results:

In 55% of patients the profunda femoris vein was larger than normal and provided partial outflow from the leg through a profunda-popliteal connection, but the superficial femoral vein was still the dominant outflow tract (grades I and II). In 36% of patients the profunda femoris was the dominant outflow tract from the leg, and in another 9% it was the sole axial outflow tract (grades III and IV). The skin changes of advanced venous stasis were present among 92% of patients and frank ulceration among 88%. Antireflux operations on the profunda femoris vein and companion superficial femoral vein, including ligation and division in some instances, were well tolerated. Despite a postthrombotic cause, obstruction did not worsen after surgical treatment, and reflux improved according to most laboratory measurements. Complete ulcer healing was obtained with the surgical techniques described. The actuarial recurrence-free survival rates were 90% 1 year and 66% 5 years after treatment.

Conclusion:

Axial transformation of the profunda femoris vein is present in a subset of instances in which severe postthrombotic changes are present in the companion superficial femoral vein. Profunda femoris reflux is invariably present in these instances because of compensatory dilatation and enlargement of this vessel. Simultaneous valve repair of the axially transformed profunda femoris vein and companion superficial femoral vein to abolish reflux yields excellent long-term results and healing of stasis ulceration.

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