The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on radiofrequency ablation of varicose veins.

NICE has published a clinical guideline on varicose veins in the legs (NICE guideline CG168, 2013).


Symptomatic venous insufficiency is common, affecting 1-15% of adult men and 20-25% of adult women. Saphenous vein insufficiency is the most common form of venous insufficiency in patients presenting with symptoms, which include pain, oedema, fatigue, varicose veins and venous ulcers. 

Radiofrequency ablation of varicose veins involves heating the wall of the vein using a bipolar generator and catheters with sheathable electrodes

The saphenous vein is accessed above or below the knee either percutaneously via an intravenous cannula/venipuncture sheath or via a small incision. The catheter is manually withdrawn at 2.5-3cm/minute, and the vein wall temperature is maintained at 85°C. 

Coding recommendations


SNOMED CT preferred term (concept ID)

Endovenous radiofrequency obliteration of varicose vein of lower limb (448606008)

L88.2 Radiofrequency ablation of varicose vein of leg

Diagnosis or health condition

SNOMED CT preferred term (concept ID)

Varicose veins of lower extremity (72866009)