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FDA backs laser vein treatment

17 Jun 2002

A quick and easy laser-based technique that shrinks varicose veins is set to revolutionize US sufferers' lives.

US firm, Diomed, has won approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for its minimally-invasive treatment of varicose veins. The company claims that the endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) is the first laser-based treatment available in the US that treats patients' varicose veins without a need for hospitalization or general anaesthesia.

EVLT works by using a diode laser to close the greater saphenous vein, the main vein running along the length of the inner leg. This forces the branching veins - that are twisted and varicose - to shrink and lose their unsightly appearance.

The technique is administered by delivering pulsed 810 nm laser energy to the vein via a 600 µm fiber. A low-power guidance beam allows the physician to accurately position the fiber-tip in the vein. The fiber is then slowly withdrawn and the laser energy heats and seals the vein shut.

Robert Min, director of Cornell Vascular, a US-based center for the treatment of venous disorders, and pioneer of the technique believes it offers fresh hope to varicose vein sufferers.

"EVLT is a 45 minute office procedure that allows patients to return to normal activity immediately," he said. "There is minimal discomfort, low risk of complications and the procedure is simpler and cheaper than other treatments."

Diomed received European CE marking for EVLT in October of last year and already boasts a 97% success rate across hundreds of patients.

  • Varicose veins affect 15 to 25% of all adults, and 50% of people over the age of 50.

    Rebecca Pool is news editor of Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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