By: Dr. Robert Foster
Interventional Cardiologist at Birmingham Heart Clinic
The Vein Center at Birmingham Heart Clinic diagnoses and treats venous disease with minimally-invasive procedures, resulting in less pain and quicker recoveries for patients.
What is venous disease?
About 15 percent of people in America have venous disease, which is caused by diseased or abnormal veins. When vein vessels become damaged or weak, blood flows backward causing the veins to stretch, swell and twist.
What are spider and varicose veins?
One of the most common and visible signs of venous disease is spider veins, which appear as small, purplish or blue clusters of veins on the leg. Varicose veins are larger, bluish veins which may look enlarged. Spider veins typically do not cause discomfort, but if they become painful, it is important to meet with a physician who is qualified in the diagnosis and treatment of venous disease. Though spider or varicose veins may be unsightly, many do not realize that there is a serious underlying condition causing them that may need to be treated before it worsens.
What are the symptoms of venous disease?
Venous disease may not present itself until leg pain or skin problems emerge. Venous disease symptoms may include the following:
- Swelling or heaviness in legs
- Leg pain or cramping
- Visible varicose or spider veins
- Discoloration of skin
- Dry or weeping eczema
- Leg ulcers
The disease can progressively get worse over time due to the pressure created by the backflow of blood in the legs. This may lead to additional spider and varicose veins, and in some cases can lead to swelling and venous ulcers at the lower calf and ankle. Even if only spider veins are present, you should consult a vein specialist to determine the problem so that it can be treated.
What venous services are offered at BHC?
BHC offers the following services in detecting and treating venous disease:
- Duplex Ultrasound. This diagnostic scan shows how your blood is moving through your veins and measures the size and structure of your veins. While you are lying down, our technician passes a probe over your legs, and the sound waves create a picture revealing any leakages.
- Radiofrequency (RF) Ablation. In this minimally-invasive procedure, radio frequency energy applies heat to the vein wall through a thin catheter. This closes off the vein.
- Endovenous Laser Therapy. This is similar to RF ablation in that a thin catheter is inserted into a vein but instead uses a laser fiber to heat the vein wall.
- Sclerotherapy. This is an effective treatment for both spider and varicose veins. Medication is injected into the affected veins, causing them to shrink. Most patients require a series of treatments.
- Phlebectomy. This procedure involves removal of varicose veins through small punctures or incisions in the skin.
What if venous disease is left untreated?
Venous disease can progressively get worse over time due to the pressure created by the backflow of blood in the legs. This may lead to additional spider and varicose veins, and in some cases can lead to swelling and venous ulcers at the lower calf and ankle. Even if only spider veins are present, you should consult a vein specialist to determine the problem so that it can be treated.
If you think you may have venous disease, call BHC for a consultation at 205-856-2284.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]