Patients with a condition which causes blood to pool in the legs can now have the surgery under local anaesthetic – meaning they can go home in less than one hour.
As a result of the valves not closing properly the patients suffer symptoms such as varicose veins, leg heaviness, fatigue, pain, swollen limbs, skin changes and leg ulcers.
The new treatment for patients with chronic venous insufficiency is being performed in main outpatient at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
It means patients can go home shortly after having the procedure instead of having to stay in hospital longer to recover from the general anaesthetic and its side-effects of nausea and vomiting.
Traditionally, patients with varicose veins would undergo vein stripping surgery which is invasive, requiring a general anaesthetic, associated with more pain and a longer recovery.
Peng Wong, Consultant Vascular Surgeon said: “The new service at Hartlepool provides a minimally invasive treatment that is performed under local anaesthetic in an outpatient setting.
Using ultrasound the surgeon positions a device into the diseased vein through a small needle puncture site in the skin. The tiny catheter powered by radiofrequency energy delivers heat to the vein wall. As the thermal energy is delivered, the vein wall shrinks and the vein is closed. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood will re-route itself to other health veins. Following the procedure, a simple bandage and stocking is placed over the treated leg.Patients can walk out of the hospital within the hour and return to their normal activities within a couple of days.”
This minimally invasive endothermal treatment is recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence as the first line for helping patients with chronic venous insufficiency.
Valerie Williams, 72, who lives in Hartlepool, was the first patient to have the procedure.
Speaking afterwards, she said: “The procedure was absolutely fine – the consultant was explaining to me throughout what was happening, which was very reassuring.
“I am now sitting down recovering with a cup of tea and a biscuit and will be able to go home later this morning and rest there, before coming back for a review appointment in a couple of months.”