The Clinical and Histological Effects of Ethanolamine in Varicose Veins

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To study the histological changes in varicosities after injection of 5% ethanolamine.


A prospective study in nine groups of six patients awaiting bilateral varicose vein surgery.


Each patient had a below-knee incompetent perforating vein injected with either 0.5, 1.0 or 2.0 ml 5% ethanolamine. The contralateral varicosity received a similar volume of normal saline.


The patients wore elasticated stockings until admitted for operation at 2, 4 or 8 weeks after the injections. The injected varicosity was then dissected out.

Main outcome measures:

Each vein was reported on by a histologist who did not know which had received ethanolamine or saline. The histologist graded each vein according to the severity of change from 0 (no effect) to 5 (total obliteration of vein).


Ethanolamine at 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0 ml caused extensive histological damage to the varicosity. After 8 weeks most varicosities had been destroyed.


Ethanolamine, unlike sodium tetradecyl sulphate, causes complete destruction of a varicosity. A dose of 0.5 ml is just as effective as 2.0 ml.

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