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 clinical guideline 168, 2013)

  • Description

    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 The catheter is manually withdrawn at 2.5-3cm/minute, and the vein wall temperature is maintained at 85°C.

  • OPCS4.6 Code(s)


    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)   


    SNOMED CT provides clinical terms for entry into the patient record to store clinical information relevant to that encounter.

    The mandated classifications (OPCS-4 or ICD-10) provide a method to collect and aggregate data to allow accurate and consistent data analysis.

    The UK Edition of SNOMED CT is managed by the Clinical Terminology Service of the Health and Social Care Information Centre . For further information including licensing, see UK Terminology Centre — Health and Social Care Information Centre

    The Clinical Classifications Service of the Health and Social Care Information Centre is the central definitive source for clinical coding guidance and determines the coding standards associated with the classifications (OPCS-4 and ICD-10) to be used across the NHS.  The Clinical Classifications Service and NICE work collaboratively to ensure the most appropriate classification codes are provided. Clinical Classifications Service — Health and Social Care Information Centre

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