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Venous Diseases

When veins in the body become diseased, the veins may not properly deliver blood or allow blood to return properly. Interventional radiologists utilize a series of procedures to fix damaged blood vessels. Fortunately, treatment usually doesn't mean a hospital stay or a long, uncomfortable recovery. With minimally invasive procedures, varicose veins and spider veins can be treated a number of ways on an outpatient basis. Procedures include:

Thrombolysis

Blood clots form within blood vessels and grow to block blood flow. Thrombolysis is a procedure that dissolves abnormal blood clots in blood vessels, which improves blood flow to help prevent tissue and organ damage. During thrombolysis, an X-ray is used to guide medication or a medical device to the site of the blood clot in order to dissolve the clot.

Inferior Vena Cava Filters

The inferior vena cava is the large vein in the abdomen which transports blood from your lower body to your heart. Interventional radiologists use imaging to place a filter in the inferior vena cava to catch clot pieces that are created when a blood clot in the lower body breaks up. By catching the clot pieces, the filter prevents the pieces from travelling to the heart or lungs, which can cause dangerous complications or death.

Catheter-Assisted Procedures/Endovenous Laser Therapy

This treatment involves the interventional radiologist inserting a catheter into an enlarged vein and heating the tip of the catheter. As the catheter is pulled out, the heat destroys the vein by causing it to collapse and seal shut. This procedure is usually done for larger varicose veins.

Vein Stripping/Phlebectomy

This procedure involves removing a long vein through small incisions. Removing the vein won't adversely affect circulation in your leg because veins deeper in the leg take care of the larger volumes of blood. This is an outpatient procedure for most patients.

Sclerotherapy

Arteries carry blood from the heart; veins carry it back; valves keep the blood from flowing backwards. A weakened valve can let blood leak back into the vein, collect there, and cause it to enlarge, forming varicose veins. For many, varicose veins are only a cosmetic concern. For others, varicose veins cause aching pain and may signal a higher risk of circulatory problems.

In this procedure, the interventional radiologist injects small- and medium-sized varicose veins with a solution that scars and closes the veins. In a few weeks, treated varicose veins should fade. Although the same vein may need to be injected more than once, sclerotherapy is quite effective on spider veins.