Emerson Hospital Offers New Procedure For Varicose Veins
Area residents can now receive endovenous laser therapy (EVLT), a 40-minute outpatient procedure that treats varicose veins, from Emerson Hospital's interventional radiology physicians. The treatment requires no hospital stay and minimal recovery time, and it causes little discomfort.
"During the past decade, medical research has provided a more complete understanding of what causes varicose veins to develop," said Dr. Mark Connaughton, interventional radiologist at Emerson Hospital. "An improved treatment has become available. EVLT is easier on patients, as well as more effective, than the traditional surgical approach. The vast majority of patients can expect to receive successful treatment of their varicose veins."
Approximately 20 percent of adults develop varicose veins. Symptoms of varicose veins include heaviness and burning or aching in the legs, especially after standing or walking. EVLT is effective because it addresses the source of the problem: leaky valves within the veins. The leg veins, which carry blood to the heart, have valves—flap-like tissue that keeps blood moving in the right direction. If a valve begins to leak, blood will collect in that vein, which may then stretch in size to produce varicose veins. Left untreated, varicose veins can cause further circulatory problems or skin ulcers.
Treating a varicose vein with EVLT causes the vein to shrink and close up, with blood safely rerouted to an adjacent vein. "Within a few days of treatment, the vein typically collapses, followed by the disappearance of symptoms and a cosmetic improvement," said Dr. Connaughton. During the procedure, a local anesthetic is applied to the area that will be treated. Once the leg is numb, the interventional radiologist makes a small nick in the skin and, using ultrasound guidance, advances a thin, flexible laser fiber into the vein that has the leaky valve. The fiber emits the required laser energy needed to collapse the walls of the vein.
At Emerson EVLT procedures are performed by one of the hospital's interventional radiologists—board-certified physicians who specialize in image-guided procedures. A nurse and an ultrasound technologist are also part of the team that performs EVLT.