The procedure is a minimally invasive treatment for superficial venous reflux. A thin catheter is inserted into the vein through a small opening, through which radiofrequency (RF) energy is delivered to the vein wall, causing it to heat, collapse and seal shut.
This is a condition that develops when the valves that usually keep blood flowing out of the legs become damaged or diseased. This causes blood to pool in the legs. Common symptoms of superficial venous reflux include pain, swelling, leg heaviness and fatigue, as well as varicose veins in the legs.
Since valves can't be repaired, the only alternative is to re-route blood flow through healthy veins. Traditionally, this has been done by surgically removing (stripping) the troublesome vein from the leg. The VNUS Closure procedure provides a less invasive alternative to vein stripping by simply closing the problem vein instead. Once the diseased vein is closed, other healthy veins take over and empty blood from the legs.
The vein simply becomes fibrous tissue after treatment and will gradually be incorporated into surrounding tissue. One study reported that 89% of treated veins are indistinguishable from other body tissue one year after the closure procedure was performed.
During a stripping procedure, an incision in the groin is made and the vein tied off, after which a stripper tool is threaded through the saphenous vein and used to pull the vein outof the leg through a second incision just above the calf. In the VNUS Closure procedure, there is no need for groin surgery. Instead, the vein remains in place and is closed using a special catheter inserted through a small puncture hole. This may eliminate the bruising and pain often associated with vein stripping. Vein stripping is usually performed in an operating room under General Anaesthetic, whilst the VNUS Closure procedure is performed using Local Anaesthetic with/without sedation as a day case.
It takes approximately 45-60 minutes, though patients normally spend 2-3 hours at our Centre overall.
Patients report feeling little, if any pain. Local Anaesthetic can be used to numb the treatment area.
Many patients can resume normal activities immediately. For a few weeks following treatment, we advise that patients wear a stocking and walk regularly. Patients are also advised to refrain from very strenuous activities such as heavy lifting or prolonged periods of standing.
Most patients report a noticeable improvement in their symptoms within 1-2 weeks following the procedure.
Patients report minimal to no scarring, bruising or swelling compared to vein stripping and laser treatment.
As with any medical procedure, potential risks and complications exist with this procedure. All patients should consult their GP to determine if their conditions present any special risks. Potential complications can include phlebitis, haematoma, infection, paresthesia (numbness or tingling) and/or skin burn.
The most important step in determining whether or not the closure procedure is appropriate is a complete ultrasound examination. Age alone is not a factor as the procedure has been used to treat patients across a wide range of ages. It is particularly beneficial in the elderly as it can be safely performed under Local Anaesthetic, thereby avoiding the potential risks of a General Anaesthetic in this group of patients.
Published data suggests that two years after treatment, 90% of the treated veins remain closed and free from reflux; the underlying cause of varicose veins.