As time passes newer more modern and effective modalities replace the old ones in almost every form of activity. Medicine is no exception.
Beginning in the 90’s there was a paradigm shift in the treatment of vascular disease. This shift has now firmly established catheter techniques as first-line therapy for many conditions that, in the past, were either not treated, or treated by open surgical intervention.
Understanding Catheter Techniques
So what is meant by “catheter techniques”? This means that access to the problem at hand, as well as the treatment of said problem, can be achieved by minimally invasive methods via a small incision over a vascular structure or no incision at all—just a needle stick!
The needle stick provides a portal of entry into the vascular system. Once inside, the surgeon/interventionalist can travel to the problem site and perform the repair under some sort of guidance—usually x-ray or ultrasound. Just guessing, I would say that about 50% of the surgeries that were taught to me during my Vascular Fellowship have been replaced or augmented by catheter techniques.
Medical Problems Corrected Through Catheter Techniques
The list of things that can be addressed in this manner is steadily growing and replacing or done in combination with open surgery: opening of blocked arteries throughout the body including the heart [angioplasty and stenting], the removal of blood clots in both the arterial and venous systems, dissolving blood clots in both the arterial and venous systems, the repair of aneurysms throughout the body including the aorta, the repair and treatment of congenital vascular defects, emergency repair of torn arteries, closure of small holes in the heart, treatment of benign and malignant tumors, and treatment of dangerous heart rhythm disturbances to name just a few.
The “new” techniques of treatment in both arterial and venous disease have in many instances supplanted the routine open surgical procedures for many conditions. It is recommended that patients seek out trained Vascular Surgeons when the specter of an open operation is on the horizon.
If the use of catheter techniques is not brought up by the physician, the informed patient should ask questions regarding these new modalities to make sure that these potentially safer, more efficacious, and less painful solutions are not appropriate for treatment of their condition.
Next time, in Part 2, we will discuss in more detail, the effect of these catheter techniques in the treatment of arterial disorders.
Dr. Robert Ruess is a Vein Specialist at Five Star Vein Institute. Schedule your vein screening at the Las Vegas or Mesquite, NV locations to understand more about your options for treatment in vein disease.