Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy
Problem: Varicose Veins
Normally, veins return blood from the rest of the body to the heart. Veins must work against gravity to transport blood to the heart. Muscle contractions in the lower legs work as pumps and elastic vein walls help return blood to the heart. Tiny valves in the veins open to allow blood to flow towards the heart and close to keep blood from flowing backwards. Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins do not close properly and allow blood to flow backwards. The blood pools in the vein, which causes the vein walls to weaken and expand, leading to varicose veins.
Vein problems often run in families, but there are some other factors that lead to their development. Some risk factors include:
- The risk of developing varicose veins increases with age. Over time, the valves in the veins can become damaged from wear and tear.
- Women are more likely to develop varicose veins than men.
- Extra weight. Being overweight putts added pressure and stress on the veins, which can weaken their valves.
- Standing or sitting in the same position for extended amounts of time is not good for blood flow.
The first treatment option for varicose veins is conservative therapy such as compression stocking. Compression stockings squeeze the leg while being worn, which helps the muscles and veins work properly in returning blood to the heart.
Should conservative therapy fail to improve symptoms, there are additional treatment options. One option is ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy. This treatment uses a liquid sclerosing agent that has been mixed with air to produce foam. The sclerosing agent causes veins to collapse, and the body dissolves the closed veins over time. Because the sclerosing agent is a foam rather than liquid, it can be seen after being injected into the vein by ultrasound. Dr. Robbins will first mark the vein that is to be injected. Once the foam is injected into the problem vein, Dr. Robbins uses ultrasound to guide it throughout the vein.
This procedure is minimally invasive and is done in our office. Some risks of ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy include the following: thrombophlebitis, deep vein thrombosis, and allergy. Depending on the size and severity of the varicosity, retreatment is sometimes necessary.