Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Using ultrasound for vein treatment

Ultrasound is an essential tool in vein care, as well as non-invasive and comfortable for the patient. In addition to mapping a patient’s veins and diagnosing vein disorders, ultrasound is used throughout the treatment of veins, acting like the physician’s “eyes inside the leg.”

After a diagnostic ultrasound is performed and the doctor establishes a treatment plan to fix the problem, ultrasound may be used. In endovenous laser ablation for example, seeing where the healthy vein connects with the unhealthy vein is very important; ultrasound is the best modality to visualize this area.

Another example is ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy, which uses the guidance of ultrasound to find leaking veins that are not visible and can’t be seen with a hand-held light used to view veins near the surface (transcutaneous illumination). Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is often used to treat perforator veins, or veins that connect the superficial system (above the muscles in the leg) to the deep system (veins under and between the muscles of the leg).     

After the vein treatment and a designated amount of time for healing, the physician will use ultrasound again to assess the effectiveness of the treatment plan.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What is ultrasound mapping?

Vein disease, which often manifests as varicose veins, is defined as the impairment of blood flow towards your heart. Oxygenated blood is constantly being pumped from the heart to the rest of our bodies through arteries. It is the job of our veins to carry deoxygenated blood back up to the heart.

Healthy veins have valves that open and close to assist the return of blood to the heart. Vein disease occurs when these valves become damaged, allowing the backward flow of blood in the legs where it can pool, leading to a feeling of heaviness and fatigue and causing varicose veins or other skin changes.

Ultrasound is a tool used to diagnose if and where a vein valve (or multiple valves) in the legs is damaged. High-frequency sound waves are used to create images that allow the doctor to see which veins have flow going in which direction—like a road map for the venous system.

A healthy vein will only allow flow from the feet towards the heart. Faulty veins are often connected, so finding the “source” of the problem is a complicated, but critical, step in establishing where exactly treatment should start.

Ultrasound is the gold standard for evaluation of chronic venous disease, and it is important to have a qualified sonographer perform the mapping in order to have accurate diagnostic results. To learn more about what to expect at a vein evaluation, visit our previous post on the topic.