Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy (UGS)
What is Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy
Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy (UGS) also known as Echosclerotherapy, is the treatment of veins with injection of sclerosant with the assistance of ultrasound imaging. This will occur in people who have visible varicose veins, and occasionally in those with “incompetent” but not visible superficial veins, where there are other symptoms such as pain, or signs such as patches of surface veins.
Ultrasound guided sclerotherapy is an effective method for treating varicose veins on the legs and elsewhere in the body, but does require expertise and close follow up.
How does Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy work?
Referring to his venous mapping from the initial assessment, Dr McMaster will use ultrasound imaging to guide injections using a fine needle, into larger veins beneath the skin surface. In this treatment the sclerosant is injected in a foam form, which increases the effectiveness of the treatment by increasing the sclerosant contact with the vein walls. Foam is very visible on ultrasound, allowing accurate treatment of target veins, and the sclerosant dissolves and is rapidly eliminated. Foam sclerotherapy is extremely safe and has been in use for over 20 years.
What are the advantages of Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy?
This is an extremely safe and effective treatment provided the practitioner is well trained and qualified. The treatment is rapid, non-traumatic and requires minimal downtime. Truly this is a “walk in, walk out” treatment for varicose veins.
What should I expect?
A UGS session usually takes approximately 20-40 minutes to treat one or both legs. There are less injections than with direct vision sclerotherapy, and as the veins tend to be deeper beneath the skin, the injections cause minimal stinging, but sometimes a mild ache in the leg. There is no need to take painkillers before or after treatment which is always well tolerated. Local anaesthetic is not used as it is difficult to predict where the injections are to be located.
After your treatment
The two most common side effects of UGS are trapped blood, and staining. Trapped blood usually occurs where a large vein is located close to the skin surface. A week or so after treatment, a firm lump or cord can be felt along the line of the treated vein. Sometimes the lumps are tender and occasionally they become inflamed and red. Often areas of trapped blood develop some skin “staining” overlying the area, as pigment from the trapped blood makes its way into the skin. Trapped blood can usually be removed at follow up visits, but is eventually dissolved by the body if left untreated. These are not blood clots and do not cause any harm.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. The injections are using a very fine needle, much smaller and less painful than having blood taken for blood tests. There is often some aching immediately following injections, but this is mild and resolves rapidly, within minutes.
Dr McMaster recommends that you do not have sclerotherapy treatment immediately before or after other major procedures such as joint replacement or abdominal surgery.
In almost all situations varicose leg veins can be treated non surgically. However Dr McMaster will assess and advise you regarding options at your initial assessment. He will advise you regarding the options for treatment and is able to refer you for vascular surgery opinion if that is necessary.