Vascular Ultrasound Laboratory at VIR
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The Vein Center at Vascular Institute of the Rockies provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for all types of venous disease. We have access to the full range of resources from our nationally accredited vascular ultrasound laboratory and office-based procedure suites to hospital-based cath labs and hybrid operating rooms. This allows us to provide the best care for our patients in the safest and most appropriate setting. From DVT and varicose veins to complex venous reconstruction, the physicians at VIR provide seamless care and close follow-up for the life of our patients.
Visit us on the web at vascularinstitute.com/veincenter for patient and physician resources and to hear what our patients have to say about us
Veins carry blood back to the heart. Your legs contain a network of veins. Superficial veins (near the surface of the skin) connect to perforating veins. Perforating veins carry blood from the superficial veins to the deep veins of the thigh and calf. Healthy leg veins contain valves that open and close to assist the return of blood back to the heart. Venous reflux disease develops when the valves that keep blood flowing from the legs back to the heart become damaged or diseased. This can cause blood to pool in your legs, which can lead to a progression of symptoms.
Spider veins, medically known as telangietasias, are dilated capillary veins less than 2 millimeters in diameter. They are small, blue-to-red appearing blood vessels that lie close to the surface of the skin and occur either in lines or web-like patterns. They are usually visible on the legs and sometimes are visible around the nose and lips; they are commonly referred to as 'broken veins'. While they can ache, burn or itch now and then, they are usually not symptomatic. Spider veins are not harmful, simply unsightly.
Varicose veins are rope-like blue vessels under the skin, usually a quarter-inch or larger in diameter. They are most often branches from the saphenous trunk veins, and have enlarged due to excess pressure in the saphenous system. Varicose veins are unsightly and often painful. A clotted varicose vein causes a condition called phlebitis, in which the skin overlying the site of the clot becomes hot, red and painful. Besides the visible symptoms, physical symptoms include tiredness, restless legs at night, heaviness in the leg, pain, aching, itching, throbbing and swelling, burning or a cramping sensation.
After a comprehensive evaluation that includes an ultra-sound examination of the veins, our vein specialists will determine the optimal treatment for each patient’s needs.
The Venefit procedure, an alternative treatment option to traditional vein stripping surgery, brings state-of-the-art technology to an age-old disease.
The Venefit procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. Using ultrasound guidance, your physician will position the Venefit catheter into the diseased vein through a small opening in the skin. The slender catheter delivers radiofrequency (RF) energy to the catheter, which heats the vein wall. As the vein wall is heated and the catheter withdrawn, the collagen in the wall shrinks and the vein closes. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood is re-routed to other healthy veins.
Following the procedure, a simple bandage is placed over the insertion site, and additional compression may be provided to aid healing. Your doctor may encourage you to walk at frequent intervals and to refrain from prolonged standing and strenuous activities for a period of time.
Patients who undergo the Venefit procedure typically resume normal activities within a day.
Highlights of the Venefit Procedure
Ambulatory phlebectomy is a method of surgical removal of surface veins. This is usually completed in our office using local anesthesia. Incisions are tiny (stitches are generally not necessary) and typically leave imperceptible puncture mark scars. Post-operative discomfort is minimal. After the vein has been removed by phlebectomy, a bandage and/or compression stocking is worn for a short period.
Sclerotherapy is a cosmetic medical procedure used to treat varicose veins and spider veins. A tiny needle is used to inject a solution directly into the vein. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and stick together, and the blood to clot. Overtime, the body will absorb the treated vein. Mild discomfort may occur, and a cramping sensation may be felt for 1 to 2 minutes when larger veins are injected. The number of veins injected in one session is variable, depending on the size and location of the veins, and the patient’s overall medical condition. Anywhere from one to several sclerotherapy sessions may be needed for any vein region. Medically prescribed support hose and/or bandages may need to be worn for several days to several weeks to assist in resolution of the veins. In general, spider veins respond to treatment in 3 to 6 weeks, and larger veins respond in 3 to 4 months.
Beyond the purely cosmetic concerns about spider veins and the pain, fatigue and discomfort that result from varicose veins, venous reflux is a progressive disease that can lead to other, more significant circulatory problems as it worsens. Swelling of the leg is a further sign that damaged or diseased vein valves are not functioning properly. Since the blood cannot be effectively returned to the heart, it pools in the leg resulting in higher than normal pressure (venous hypertension), and causes the leg to swell. This swelling is called edema. Learn more about Lymphedema.
In addition, when blood flow out of the legs through superficial and perforating veins is in adequate, this higher-than-normal pressure can result in damage to the skin. Progression of venous reflux can lead to changes in the skin’s color (hyperpigmentation) as well as changes in skin texture.
The most severe stage of venous reflux disease is when the inadequate blood flow results in an ulcer, commonly near the ankle. In fact damaged or diseased perforating veins are the source of venous reflux in nearly two-thirds of venous ulcer patients. These ulcers are raw and painful wounds which may not always be healed using only antibiotics or salves. Our practice is experienced in offering the most progressive approaches in treating patients with advanced symptoms of venous reflux, including venous leg ulcers.