Varicose veins can be painful and unsightly, with treatment often meaning surgery under general anaesthetic and a long recovery period.
While the traditional surgical approach has meant painful vein stripping, many UK hospitals now offer minimally invasive catheter technology that enables even severe varicose veins to be successfully treated in an outpatient setting, under a local anaesthetic.
Taking just a few minutes, a device is inserted into the diseased vein, where a catheter or fibre delivers either radio frequency or laser energy to heat and seal the vessel. The technique is extremely successful and far less painful and traumatic to the patient than vein stripping.
Endovenous laser (EVL) devices utilise an optical fibre to deliver extremely high levels of heat – over 700 degrees centigrade – that boils the blood in the vein to create a clotting effect that seals the vein as the device is withdrawn.
Radiofrequency devices operate at far lower temperatures to heat and shrink the vein walls, limiting the impact on surrounding tissues and, according to a clinical study, causing significantly less pain and bruising than laser.
Vascular surgeons using the VNUS® ClosureFAST™ catheter, the only radiofrequency device on the market today for the treatment of venous reflux, report that most patients return to normal activity almost immediately following the procedure, with little or no post-operative pain.
Radiofrequency endovenous ablation is a minimally invasive procedure for treating venous reflux disease, using Radiofrequency to heat and seal diseased veins, thereby reducing or eliminating existing varicose veins.
With the VNUS® ClosureFAST™ catheter, radiofrequency energy is delivered through a heating element seven centimetres long, to heat the collagen within the vein walls and cause the shrinkage and collapse of the vessel.
The closure procedure is generally performed using local anaesthesia, typically in a hospital theatre or an outpatient facility.
A ClosureFAST™ catheter is inserted into the vein through a tiny incision below the knee. Guided by ultrasound imaging, the vascular surgeon treats each 7cm segment of vein with a 20-second burst of radiofrequency energy, causing the vessel to shrink around the catheter.
The vascular surgeon withdraws the catheter, treating each segment until the entire vessel has been sealed. On average, 45cm of vein can be treated in three to five minutes.
In a clinical trial comparing Closure to laser, patients treated with Closure experienced less pain, less bruising and fewer complications, while a
one-year clinical data has shown the ClosureFAST™ catheter to be more than 97.4% effective in preventing reflux recurrence.