Varicose veins: next turf war?

It's quick, safe, and relatively painless, and if interventional radiologists want to own it, they'd better step up quickly: Endovenous laser treatment of varicose veins is poised to take off, according to Cornell University researchers. A two-year follow-up of 97 treated limbs showed a 6% recurrence rate, compared with 10% or higher recurrence reported for surgery, radio-frequency ablation, and transcatheter sclerotherapy.

It's quick, safe, and relatively painless, and if interventional radiologists want to own it, they'd better step up quickly: Endovenous laser treatment of varicose veins is poised to take off, according to Cornell University researchers. A two-year follow-up of 97 treated limbs showed a 6% recurrence rate, compared with 10% or higher recurrence reported for surgery, radio-frequency ablation, and transcatheter sclerotherapy.

The study was presented in January at the 15th Annual International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy.

Approved by the FDA in January 2002, laser treatment can be performed in an outpatient setting and is less expensive than surgery, with little reported patient discomfort.

"Most of the people qualified to perform this procedure should be interventional radiologists, but over the next couple of years there'll be thousands of physicians doing it, including vascular and general surgeons and even dermatologists," said Dr. Robert Min, coauthor and director of Cornell's new vascular center.