Feature | February 13, 2013

Time to Rethink Varicose Veins

SIR joins national awareness program encouraging proper diagnosis and treatment of common, yet serious medical condition

February 13, 2013 — The Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR), an international organization of doctors, scientists and allied health professionals dedicated to improving public health through minimally invasive, image-guided treatments, joined as a member of the "Rethink Varicose Veins" coalition, an alliance of organizations united to drive public awareness of the risks of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency.

"Becoming part of this wide-reaching initiative supports the Society of Interventional Radiology's mission to improve public health through advances in minimally invasive medicine," said SIR President Marshall E. Hicks, M.D., FSIR, who represents the society's nearly 5,000 doctors, scientists and allied health professionals. "The contributions of interventional radiologists — doctors who are specially trained in performing minimally invasive treatments using imaging guidance, and experts in the treatment of venous insufficiency — to this kind of outreach program are invaluable," said Hicks, the head of the division of diagnostic imaging at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "SIR is committed to developing and maintaining the highest standards of excellence in patient care. Together with the other societies involved, we are pleased to be a part of this campaign to alert the public to the dangers of varicose veins and venous disease," said Hicks.

The "Rethink Varicose Veins" online hub, www.RethinkVaricoseVeins.com, includes tools for individuals, including a way to assess knowledge of vein conditions and a self-assessment for varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency risks. Individuals may also search for a vein specialist in their own local area using the physician search feature. "Rethink Varicose Veins" also showcases the story of Olympic Gold Medalist Summer Sanders, who underwent a minimally invasive vein treatment and returned to her regular schedule within a short period of time. Health care professionals are encouraged to download an electronic toolkit, which includes an e-flyer, banner ads and content for physician websites. In addition to SIR, "Rethink Varicose Veins" participants include the American College of Phlebology, American Podiatric Medical Association, American Venous Forum, Society for Vascular Medicine, Society for Vascular Surgery and the Society for Vascular Ultrasound.

As vascular specialists, interventional radiologists treat varicose veins using imaging guidance to perform vein ablation via a thin catheter inserted into the vein where they apply radiofrequency energy heat to the damaged vein and seal it closed. After closing, the twisted veins shrink and improve in appearance and other healthy veins take over to carry blood from the leg. Individuals are often able to immediately return to normal activity with little or no pain.

SIR has a long history of promoting vein health. Throughout the year and especially during March's Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month, SIR alerts the public on the risk factors for DVT, which if left untreated, can lead to pulmonary embolism (when the clot travels to the lungs) or post-thrombotic syndrome, which may result in permanent damage to leg veins. SIR also runs Legs For Life (www.LegsForLife.org), an ongoing public education/community wellness program that enables people to locate screening sites and learn about the risks for venous disease and peripheral arterial disease. As pioneers in venous disease research, interventional radiologists are also at the forefront of the ATTRACT (Acute Venous Thrombosis: Thrombus Removal with Adjunctive Catheter-Directed Thrombolysis) Study: an NIH-sponsored, first U.S.-based multicenter randomized trial of a catheter-based treatment for deep vein thrombosis (a dangerous blood clot deep within a leg vein).

For more information: www.SIRweb.org.

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