‘Leaky vein’ fix helps patient walk better

Minot man receives same-day procedure to reduce leg swelling, regain movement

Mature Sanford Health patient wearing compression socks on his legs sits with his young granddaughter on deck stairs.

A routine knee replacement resulted in an infection that would take years to remove.

Brian Veitz of Minot, North Dakota, underwent five operations at hospitals across the Bismarck region to replace his right knee and remove infection caused by surgery.

Several months after his final surgery, Veitz noticed his leg began to swell.

“Not only was my leg getting bigger, but my leg was turning red and purple, and my toes were almost black,” said Veitz.

Veitz’s right leg was experiencing severe leaky varicose veins, a side effect of the trauma his leg had endured through surgery and infections. The symptoms had become so severe that Veitz began having difficulty walking in the grocery store, taking the stairs, and bending his knee.

“My leg felt extremely bloated and almost weak, as if without power,” said Veitz.

Same-day surgery for varicose veins

Nayan Desai, M.D., a specialist in interventional cardiology, diagnosed the symptoms right away and performed a procedure called a closurefast radiofrequency ablation to cauterize and close the leaky varicose vein.

“A simple treatment like compression sock and leg elevation may work for some, but in others they need minimally invasive procedures where we ablate the leaky vein with an endovascular same-day procedure,” said Dr. Desai.

Learn more: How to schedule a vascular screening

The procedure was completed in the same day, leaving Veitz to walk out better than he walked in.

“I was amazed (Dr. Desai) could do this,” said Veitz. “I have made an 80% improvement … and am going to physical therapy, learning how to walk again and get strength back in my leg.”

Dr. Desai says it was a good thing that Veitz noticed something was wrong and came in for a closer look.

“Most of the patients ignore this and think about it as a cosmetic problem, but in reality, it is a debilitating medical condition,” said Dr. Desai. “If the disease progresses it can develop into chronic venous insufficiency, a more serious form of vein disease that can significantly impact one’s quality of life. If left untreated, some patients can develop painful sores or wounds on the skin’s surface called ulcers.”

Varicose veins: What are they?

Varicose veins are a common condition, affecting up to 3 in 10 adults, and are more common to develop in women. Varicose veins occur when your veins become enlarged, dilated and overfilled with blood. They can happen anywhere in the body, but most are found in the legs and feet.

Risk factors that lead to varicose veins are family history, lack of exercise, leg injury, obesity, pregnancy, and smoking.

Varicose veins are often misunderstood as a cosmetic issue, but when left untreated, they can be uncomfortable and lead to more serious health problems such as chronic venous insufficiency.

Treatments can range from non-surgical approaches, such as compression socks, leg elevation and minimally invasive surgeries.

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Posted In Heart, Vascular

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