The IAC provides the following links and information for patients looking to have a vein or vascular interventional procedure done.
Vein Center Common Terms
Chronic Venous Insufficiency: If you have CVI, valves in your veins (usually in the leg or sometimes the arms) don’t work, causing blood to pool in your legs and putting increased pressure on the walls of the veins. May be due to valve dysfunction (usually hereditary) or due to valve destruction after a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clot. (2)
Deep Leg Vein: The veins that are deep in the thigh and leg that carry blood back to the heart. (1)
Duplex Ultrasound: A non-invasive evaluation of blood flow through your arteries and veins. This test provides information to help your vascular surgeon make a sound diagnosis and outline a treatment plan. Accuracy is critical, so ultrasound testing should ALWAYS be performed by a credentialed sonographer in an accredited vascular laboratory. (2)
Spider Vein: A tiny varicose vein that may be blue or red color that does not protrude above the skin surface and frequently looks like a spider. Common medical terms you may hear for spider veins are telangiectasias and telangiectatic veins. Slightly larger varicose veins that do not protrude above the skin are called reticular veins. (1)
What is superficial venous disease?
There are three types of veins in the human body: superficial, communicating and deep veins. Superficial veins lie just beneath the skin and carry 10-15% of the blood in the legs. Superficial venous disorders occur when the valves become damaged, impairing blood flow. One of the most common superficial venous disorders is varicose veins.
More than 25 million Americans suffer from varicose veins, which are swollen or stretched veins protruding from the skin that allow blood to flow backwards and pool in the leg. Varicose veins affect both men and women of all ages and can result in fatigue, swelling, aching, cramping and itching of the skin. The condition is often hereditary; however, additional factors such as age, lack of exercise, weight fluctuation and long periods of sitting or standing can also play a role. Treatment such as venous ablation can help eliminate pain and improve appearance and overall health. If left untreated, varicose veins and other venous disorders can worsen to chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
CVI is a condition that occurs when the venous wall and/or valves in the leg veins are not working effectively, making it difficult for blood to return to the heart from the legs. CVI causes blood to “pool” or collect at the ankle, and this pooling is called stasis. This condition can lead to further complications such as venous ulcers, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
To be eligible to apply for IAC Vein Center accreditation, facilities must have the capability to provide at least two of the following four superficial venous procedures:
Saphenous Vein Ablation – Another minimally invasive outpatient treatment for venous insufficiency that is performed using ultrasound guidance. After applying local anesthetic to the skin over the vein, a small catheter is inserted into the damaged vein by a physician. Thermal energy or heat is then delivered inside the vein which causes the vein to collapse and seal shut. By closing the abnormal vein, the varicose veins shrink and in turn, improve blood flow. In addition, once the diseased vein is closed, the surrounding healthy veins are no longer burdened by the leaking blood flow. Other healthy veins take over to carry blood from the leg. (3)
Ambulatory Phlebectomy – A method of surgical removal of surface varicose veins. Ambulatory phlebectomy is usually performed in a doctor’s office using local anesthesia. The area surrounding the varicose vein clusters is flooded with anesthetic fluid. A needle is then used to make a puncture next to the varicose vein and a small hook is inserted into the needle hole and the varicose vein is grasped and removed. The punctures typically leave nearly imperceptible scars. (1)
Sclerotherapy – The direct injection of a chemical irritant into a vein to close the vessel. This technique is often used to treat smaller veins such as telangiectasia (spider veins). A variety of materials can be used to irritate the vein lining, which causes them to shrink and close. The solution is administered through a tiny needle. (3)
Non-Operative Management of Chronic Venous Insufficiency with Ulceration (wound care including debridement/bandaging and compression therapy – Compression therapy is a form of treatment that requires the patient to wear socks or stockings that are specifically designed to support the veins and increase circulation in the patients’ legs. The patient will wear the socks or stockings throughout the day and the compression they provide prevents blood from pooling in the legs, thereby helping with overall circulation and diminishing any leg swelling. (4)
IAC offers an online tool to assist patients in locating an IAC-accredited facility. When scheduling a procedure, patients should research the accreditation status of the facility. To find an IAC-accredited facility, visit the IAC Accredited Facility Locator and select Vein Center or Vascular Interventional under Modalities.
Resources for Patients
- American Vein & Lymphatic Society – Patient Education (www.healthyveins.org)
- Society for Vascular Surgery – Patient Resources (vascular.org/patient-resources)
- Society of Interventional Radiology – Interventional Radiology Nonsurgical Outpatient Procedure Treats Varicose Veins (www.sirweb.org/patient-center/conditions-and-treatments/venous-disease)
- American Venous Forum Patient Information (www.veinforum.org/patients)