Varicose Veins & Interventional Radiology – All You Should Know!

Varicose Veins & Interventional Radiology – All You Should Know!

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By Maven Medical Center, General Surgery

Varicose veins are swollen veins that are clearly visible under the skin. They are accompanied by pain, and may even lead to blood clots and sores in some people. They usually show up in the legs but may appear in other parts of the body as well.

What causes varicose veins?

Veins have one-way valves that help in blood flow. When there is a fault in the valves, blood flows in the wrong direction or start pooling. This causes the veins to swell up, and become twisted. Around one in every four individuals has varicose veins.

Many factors are responsible for varicose veins such as the following-

  • Age
  • Family history
  • A previous trauma
  • Pregnant women and obese people are more likely to develop varicose veins than others do

Symptoms that indicate varicose veins-

The symptoms of varicose veins in a person include-

• Swollen ankles
• Aching legs
• Spider veins

What is interventional radiology?

Interventional radiology is a medical specialization, which involves performing imaging procedures to capture images from inside the body. It is a minimally invasive procedure, which is performed by people trained in the method. A person recovers much faster after an interventional radiology session than after a conventional surgery. There are hardly any risks of infections.

There are two methods employed by interventional radiology to treat varicose veins-

• Endovenous laser ablation treatment (EVLT)

Using X-ray images, the radiologist inserts a laser thread into the vein with a needle. The vein is numbed so that the procedure does not cause pain. The heat from the laser thread slowly closes the vein. Blood will then flow seamlessly through the other healthy veins without the flow being disrupted by the problematic vein.

A person can resume her/his daily activities almost immediately.

Varicose veins can also be treated without using heat. Non-thermal treatment include-

  1. Vena Seal cyanoacrylate - Through this process medical glue is inserted into the vein to close it.
  2. Clarivein - The doctor inserts a rotating catheter (a small, flexible tube) inside the vein to introduce a chemical solution that results in vein closure.
  3. Varithena - A frothy material is introduced into a varicose vein to quell the symptoms.

• Scleropathy

Through this process, the radiologist uses X-ray images to discharge a chemical that causes irritation and forces the lining of the veins to swell and close up. This method is very effective for treatment of smaller veins like telangiectasia.

Varicose veins do not pose a grave health risk. However, they are painful and play havoc with a person’s everyday activities. Today a person does not have to go under the knife to treat varicose veins. There are simpler and safer means available through interventional radiology.