submitted by Dr. Stephen Allen, the Center for Advanced Vein Therapy, www.veintherapypa.com
In medicine today, there are many specialties that can treat varicose veins. Among the many options available, interventional radiologists are the most adept at diagnosing and treating venous disease due to their extensive knowledge of venous anatomy coupled with their training to manipulate catheters under imaging guidance .
In fact, interventional radiologists were the first to develop minimally invasive procedures including endovascular surgery and catheter directed therapies. The concept of accessing a vessel with a needle and placing a catheter into a vein was initially investigated by an interventional radiologist and was first reported in medical literature 1954.
Today, board certified interventional radiologists are trained during their residencies and fellowship programs to evaluate medical images for all radiology modalities including ultrasound, CT scanning, MRI, and nuclear medicine. In addition, interventional radiologists receive additional subspecialty training in surgical techniques and spend multiple years acquiring proficiency manipulating catheters utilizing imaging guidance. The focus has always been on making surgical procedures less invasive which is inherently less risky. This extensive training provides a firm technical foundation for a physician who wants to specialize in minimally invasive vein therapy treatments.
Although you have probably heard the term minimally invasive treatment, procedure or surgery said a lot, you might not know what it actually means. A minimally invasive approach involves the least possible damage to the body, typically requiring only a small incision or nick not much bigger than a needle stick.
There are many advantages of using minimally invasive techniques:
- Patients rapidly recover
- There is less risk of bleeding
- There is a lower chance of infection
- It is less painful and therefore, requires minimal if any sedation
- Skin scarring is minimized
- It often does not require sutures
Radiofrequency ablation is an example of a minimally invasive treatment. Generally speaking, minimally invasive procedures such as ablations are strongly preferred by nearly all patients and have made many invasive procedures obsolete.
Also, contrast an interventional radiologist’s training to the training of vascular surgeons who, instead, spend most of their training learning to perform open surgical procedures that are, by definition, much more invasive. Interventional radiology training focuses on image guided minimally invasive procedures. It is only recently that vascular surgery training programs have included endovascular techniques.
When making a choice for your vein treatment, first consider the physician’s specific training, think it through and choose wisely.
PHOTO CAP: Dr. Steven Allen and the team from the Center for Advanced Vein Therapy