First VenaSeal procedure in Iowa performed by UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute physician

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Picture of leg and ultrasound machine
There’s a new minimally invasive treatment option for varicose veins at UnityPoint Clinic Cardiology in Cedar Rapids - the VenaSeal™ closure system. Varicose veins are not just a cosmetic issue it could signal a more serious issue called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which is a serious medical issue. 

Healthy leg veins are able to keep blood flowing to the heart. Varicose veins start to develop when the veins stop working properly and allow blood to flow backward causing the blood to pool in the lower leg. Left untreated, the condition worsens over time and may cause lower extremity edema, pain or discomfort and non-healing ulcers and sores.

The traditional way of treating these incompetent veins involves using RFA ablation (radio-frequency ablation), which is based on delivering heat to the vein to close it. Heat delivered to the vein can also be transmitted to the nearby structures, like skin and nerves. This can cause nerve damage, skin burns, or significant inflammation. Some patients are not appropriate for RFA – so this procedure is a welcome option.

Cardiologists at UnityPoint Clinic Cardiology in Cedar Rapids with the UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute performed the first VenaSeal procedure in Iowa on a Cedar Rapids man last week. 

During the procedure doctors used a catheter, which is guided by an ultrasound as the device delivered a small amount of medical adhesive or glue to the diseased vein.  The VenaSeal adhesive then seals the vein and blood is rerouted through nearby healthy veins. 

“With this new procedure cardiologists are able to treat veins very close to the skin that are very challenging to treat with RFA” said Dr. Georges Hajj, UnityPoint Clinic Cardiologist. “When the vein is too close to the skin, even with tumescent injection, it may be very difficult to isolate the vein and keep it far from the skin. In that case, using RFA would not be advised because of the high risk of heat transmission to the skin and therefore skin inflammation, burning and swelling. With VenaSeal we simply glue to the vein no matter how close to the skin it is.”

There is no incision or heat used during the procedure. Cardiologists are able to perform the procedure in their clinic.

“The patient is able to return to normal activities quickly,” said Dr. Hajj. “There is no swelling, inflammation or discomfort to the patient in the days following a VenaSeal procedure. It’s another useful tool, which will allow us to successfully treat CVI. It’s a great option for patients.”

CVI is more common in women older than 50. Other factors that may increase risk include:

  • Family history
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Trauma
  • Prolonged Standing
  • Obesity or excess weight
  • Current or previous pregnancies
  • Smoking
Patients who would like to find out if they are a candidate for the VenaSeal procedure should call UnityPoint Clinic Cardiology at (319) 364-7101.