Monday, 14 May 2012

"Superglue" to treat Varicose Veins?

A "superglue" to stick varicose veins together needing virtually no anaesthetic at all, has been developed by Sapheon, a company in the United States.

The product, called "venaseal", is based upon a product that is already used successfully to close other blood vessels elsewhere in the body, such as arteries in the brain.

Only tiny amounts of the "venaseal" who are needed to treat the great saphenous vein, the commonest cause of varicose veins. The great saphenous vein runs between groin and ankle. To successfully treat varicose veins, surgeons usually need to treat the section of this vein that runs between groin and the knee.

Traditionally, this sort of surgery has been done under general anaesthetic using a "stripping" technique ( However over the last 10 years or so, general anaesthetic and stripping has been completely replaced by local anaesthetic endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in good vein practices.

However these ablation techniques use heat to destroy the vein and so require a lot of local anaesthetic to be injected through the skin and around the vein - a process called tumescence. Unfortunately the injection of tumescence can be very uncomfortable and even painful in some people.

Therefore over the last few years there has been a search for a way to close veins without using heat and thus not needing tumescent anaesthesia to be injected.

Several techniques have been suggested, some of which have been featured before in this blog or on The Whiteley Clinic websites, along with reasons why we do not support them.

Many doctors have started using ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy which, although very useful in the small veins, has a very poor success rate in the larger veins such as the great saphenous vein. Therefore foam sclerotherapy is a great adjunct to treatments of the great saphenous vein, but it is not a good treatment by itself.

In contrast to this, "venaseal" is looking very promising. The glue is injected under ultrasound control through a single needle access point - the only area that needs any local anaesthetic for the procedure. The early data seems to suggest that the glue sticks the vein together and causes such an intense reaction, the vein appears to be completely destroyed.

If this proves to be the case, it could well be an improvment on endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) which both produce excellent results when used by experts in the correct manner.

In view of this exciting development, The Whiteley Clinic has decided to join the multicentre international trial of "venaseal".

Any patients who are interested in either having "venaseal" treatment at The Whiteley Clinic or being included in the study, are invited to contact us on

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