Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, non-invasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with varicose veins. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets in the body without damaging surrounding normal tissue. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound produces precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) enabling varicose veins to be treated without surgery.
The primary options for treatment of varicose veins are surgery, sclerotherapy, intravenous laser therapy, or radio frequency closure techniques.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a non-invasive alternative to these techniques with less risk of neurologic problems, phlebitis, wound issues, or other complications.
According to evidence from a preclinical model, focused ultrasound can selectively heat affected veins, resulting in shrinking of the venous tissue and a reduction of the symptoms and side effects. This model may help guide the manufacture of clinical tools for varicose vein treatment.
Advantages of focused ultrasound:
- A non-invasive approach that requires no intravenous catheters, surgery or anesthesia.
- No risk of neurologic damage from sclerotic drugs.
- The therapy can be repeated as needed.
A clinical trial in Austria has been completed. It explored using Theraclion's Echopulse device to noninvasively treat superficial and perforating varicose veins in the lower extremity. A publication is expected soon.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for varicose veins is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
Barnat N, Grisey A, Lecuelle B, Anquez J, Gerold B, Yon S, Aubry JF. Noninvasive vascular occlusion with HIFU for venous insufficiency treatment: preclinical feasibility experience in rabbits. Phys Med Biol. 2019 Jan 7;64(2):025003. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aaf58d.
Kim MS, Kim JY, Noh SC, Choi HH. Thermal characteristics of non-biological vessel phantoms for treatment of varicose veins using high-intensity focused ultrasound. PLoS One. 2017 Apr 6;12(4):e0174922. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174922. eCollection 2017.
Henderson PW, Lewis GK, Shaikh N, Sohn A, Weinstein AL, Olbricht WL, Spector JA. A portable high-intensity focused ultrasound device for noninvasive venous ablation. J Vasc Surg. 2010 Mar;51(3):707-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2009.10.049. Epub 2010 Jan 4.
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