On The Hunt
Given that varicose veins are such a widespread problem—in the US, it’s estimated that 23 percent of adults suffer with the condition—it’s no surprise that research into treatment continues to garner widespread support. Getting a handle on this issue will no doubt reap many benefits as varicose veins impact both individual quality of life and the overall economy as sufferers occasionally need to take time off of work due to the condition.
The treatment options available are already quite effective, and today’s approaches are much less invasive and better tolerated than those of years past. Still, there’s always room for improvement, which is why it’s exciting that a team at the Center for Advanced Studies at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) in Russia has started evaluating the efficacy of a potentially groundbreaking new technique for treatment. It involves the use of ultrasound to obliterate these unsightly, uncomfortable, and damaging vein structures.
What’s the cause for this excitement? Let’s take a closer at what these researchers are up to, as well as the problems they’re trying to solve.
Like all medicine, varicose vein treatments have come a long way. Traditional approaches involved a surgery in which problematic veins were manually stripped away. While this would solve the problem, it involved very invasive methods, leading to the need for lengthy recovery. Current approaches such as sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation (RAF) are much less-invasive, but they do still entail some damage to the skin and periods of discomfort after treatment.
No doubt, then, subsequent treatments will need to represent improvements in outcomes as well as recovery time. According to the team at SPbPU, their ultrasound-based approach may represent exactly that. Let’s take a closer look.
Diagnosis & Treatment in One
So how would this approach work? Basically, the affected leg is placed into a special vat containing a liquid that conducts ultrasound. This device is unique in that it allows the doctor to visually assess the limb and seek out trouble spots, which are marked for treatment. It will also be able to automate and aid in diagnosis. Furthermore, in particularly troublesome areas, this technology can even apply “compression cuffs” to stop the flow of blood.
Marked areas of the leg are then subjected to irradiation to effectively shut off the varicose veins. This forces blood to pick out other circulatory pathways—a natural process—which leads to problem areas healing and veins disappearing. What makes this particularly innovative is that the device would combine diagnostic capability with treatment itself. Not only that, since it’s based on ultrasound radiation, it doesn’t actually damage the skin, which means quicker recovery.
The Long Road to The Clinic
In the same way that it takes some time for a new computer, smartphone, or car to hit the market, it’ll be a while before an advance like this is available in the clinical setting. This is a good thing, however! Medical treatments and technologies necessarily have to undergo a great deal of research and review before they’re cleared for use on patients. Not only do researchers such as the Russian team need to make sure for themselves that the approach is safe and effective, but there are numerous regulatory hurdles that need to be cleared. It’s thanks to this intense oversight that pharmaceutical drugs and medical technologies are largely safe.
But the promise is there. According to Dr. Alexander Berkovich, one of the lead researchers of the project, research into the efficacy of the device has already begun. He notes that a “series of experiments proving the efficacy of this technology” have already been conducted. It seems that we may be closing in on the next advance in varicose vein treatment.
The Step Forward
No matter what technology is available, the important thing if you have varicose veins is that you get solid and effective medical treatment. A good doctor should be versed in all of the options, while also seeking to stay on top of the latest advances. Beyond that, though, this person should be someone you can really trust. With the right team at your side, you can step forward from vein problems to a brighter future.
If you suffer from varicose veins or any other vein condition or disease, the team at Hamilton Vein Center is ready to help. The experts here pride themselves in offering their patients the latest in techniques and technologies. Learn more about what they do by calling the Houston location at (281) 916-5660, the Austin office at (512) 710-1114, or San Antonio at (210) 405-4707 today!
- Piazza, G. 2014. “Varicose Veins”. Circulation130 (7): 582-587. Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health). doi:10.1161/circulationaha.113.008331.
- “Russian Researchers Develop New Technology For Treating Varicose Veins”. 2017. News-Medical.Net. Accessed April 11 2018. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20170213/Russian-researchers-develop-new-technology-for-treating-varicose-veins.aspx.