Varicose veins are veins that become enlarged and visible due to weakened valves, which cause blood to pool rather than flow to the heart. They appear as swollen, dark blue or purple veins that may bulge from the skin and most often develop in the legs. Many people feel self-conscious about the appearance of these veins, and may also suffer from pain, discomfort and other complications that go beyond cosmetic concerns.
Endovenous laser ablation is one of the newest methods of treating varicose veins using laser and other light-based technologies. The technique involves delivering light energy to a targeted vein through a laser fiber which is inserted through the vein. The energy is absorbed by the vein wall, causing the blood to coagulate and the vessel to collapse. As the vein is treated, the laser fiber is pulled back until the entire length of the vein is destroyed.
While EVLA offers significant advantages including eliminating the need for surgery, the approach has its challenges. The procedure can be performed with a variety of laser wavelengths and fiber types, but not all are equally safe and effective. Manual pullback of the laser fiber can be slow, tedious and labor-intensive for the physician. Further, since manual pullback cannot be performed at an exact rate, treatment of the vein may not be homogeneous. This may lead to incomplete vein closure, vein perforation and a high recurrence rate.
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