Contributed by: Stuart B. Pink, MD, FACC, FSCAI, RPVI, Medical Director
It is believed that varicose veins will affect one in three people during their lifetime. Symptoms include leg pain and swelling, restless legs, brownish discoloration of the skin called lipodermatosclerosis, all of which can negatively affect one’s lifestyle. In its most severe form, the condition can yield the development of ulcers and threatened limb loss. Although conservative therapy including exercise and compression stockings may work, there are many patients who require eradication (or elimination) of the vein.
Currently the most common method of varicose vein closure is through "thermal ablation" using either a laser catheter or an electrical catheter, both of which close the vein by heating it. Unfortunately, this requires multiple injections of anesthetic fluid along the length of the vein treated, which may be painful and take nearly one hour to perform.
Saphenous vein closure, using a ”superglue," has been performed safely and effectively in Europe and Hong Kong with greater than 1000 patients treated to date. The material (called cyanoacrylate) has been used safely for surgical procedures as a tissue adhesive as well as for treatment of intracranial arterial venous malformation. The chemical triggers an inflammatory reaction that leads to closure of the vein. The material is delivered via a catheter system under ultrasound guidance.
In experienced hands, this procedure would require only one needle stick and could be done in less than half the time of a thermal ablation. Patients could expect to resume normal activity the same day! The FDA has conducted pre-market approval trials and the Capital Region Vein Center will be monitoring the results. Hopefully we can offer this remarkable new technology to our patients in the near future! This is exciting news as it will revolutionize the treatment of varicose veins.