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Diodes relieve vein pain

21 Aug 2003

A study proves that diode laser treatment of varicose veins is highly effective in the vast majority of cases.

Preliminary analysis of a three-year study into varicose veins suggests that laser treatment is more than 90% successful in alleviating the condition (Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology 14 991).

Clinicians in New York and Texas in the US treated 499 legs with varicose veins using a 810 nm laser diode. Laser light was injected into the patient’s great saphenous vein (a major vein in the thigh) via a 600 µm diameter optical fiber.

The heat generated by the laser light causes the vein to close and as a result any varicose veins lower down the leg shrink and improve in appearance.

The technique, called EndoVenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) is performed with a local anesthetic and takes less than an hour. The study is being carried out by clinicians at Cornell Vascular in New York and Zimmet Vein and Dermatology Clinic in Austin, Texas.

“The laser is an outpatient procedure that offers many benefits over traditional surgery including little to no pain, no general anesthesia, no scars, less cost and rapid recovery time,” said Robert Min, director of Cornell Vascular and the study’s lead investigator.

“Even when you remove the vein with surgery, there is a 10 to 25% chance of recurrence. We have a less than 7% recurrence rate for a much less invasive procedure.”

After the laser treatment, patients were evaluated using ultrasound imaging at regular intervals. In 98% of cases (490 limbs) the great saphenous vein was successfully closed by initial treatment. Of 121 treated veins that have been checked two years later, 113 of them (93%) have remained closed.

The treatment costs between 2000 to USD 3000 per leg.

Author
Oliver Graydon is editor of Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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