The radiofrequency ablation procedure is used primarily in the treatment of truncal varicose veins in the legs though it can be used in other areas of the body. It utilizes radiofrequency energy (ele`ctricity) to heat up, collapse and in turn, seal off the blood vessels.
Ultrasound is used to map the course of veins to be treated. The doctor will then use a very thin catheter guided through a tiny incision leading into the diseased vein usually setting the entrance point in the groin area.
Electricity is then delivered into a heated element in short 20 second bursts. This heats up and contracts the collagen in the vein walls, causing them to shrink and shut down. When the entire area of the vein to be treated has been ablated, the wire is carefully inched back towards the incision. Blood flow is then automatically re-routed by the body through open healthy veins.
Radiofrequency Ablation is a great alternative to the more invasive vein stripping surgery. It was approved for use in the United States in 1999.
Radio-frequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that is usually performed with mild sedation and a local anesthetic. Patients are encouraged to walk immediately following the procedure. They are usually able to resume normal activity within a day or two.