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Women’s Health: Essential Services at VIVA

In News by VIVA

Vascular health is a vital component of wellness for women. Vascular Surgeons and Interventional Radiologists diagnose and treat a vast number of vascular conditions and diseases that negatively affect daily life. Establishing a baseline and scheduling routine appointments with a vascular specialists can positively impact your healthcare.

Virginia Interventional and Vascular Associates (VIVA) offers the following essential services for women’s health:

  • Ovarian Vein Embolization
  • Uterine Fibroid Embolization
  • Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
  • Varicose vein treatment

Ovarian Vein Embolization

Ovarian Vein Embolization (OVE) is the most successful option for the treatment of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS). This minimally invasive procedure blocks blood flow to the varicose veins that cause PCS, removing pressure and forcing the vein to reroute.

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, also known as pelvic vein reflux or insufficiency, is an ongoing or chronic medical condition in which hard-to-detect varicose veins in the pelvis cause pain. Pain often subsides in the supine or lying down position, when pressure on the ovarian veins is alleviated. Thus, pelvic congestion syndrome is often undiagnosed during physical exams.

The most common symptom of PCS is a constant, dull ache. Pain is worsened in certain circumstances, such as the following:

  • standing for prolonged periods
  • pre-menstrual cycle
  • in the evening
  • during and after sexual intercourse
  • during pregnancy

Other symptoms include:

  • swelling of the vagina or vulva
  • frequent urination
  • hip pain
  • back pain
  • fatigue

Pelvic venography is the most accurate method for diagnosing Pelvic Congestion Syndrome. With the use of CT or live x-ray and contrast dye, the size, condition, and blood flow is assessed.

Through a pinhole incision, a tiny catheter is inserted into the femoral vein in the groin. With the use of x-ray imaging, the embolization is performed which disables the affected vein and causes the blood flow to redistribute to healthy veins. The outpatient procedure takes one to two hours and most patients resume regular activities the following day.

After an Ovarian Vein Embolization, patients often experience immediate and significant improvement in their symptoms. For a small percentage of patients whose symptoms do not subside, a repeat procedure is performed.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive, highly effective procedure for the treatment of uterine fibroids (leiomyoma). Endorsed by by the American College of Gynecology as a primary treatment for uterine fibroids, UFE provides faster recovery than surgical options with most women returning to normal activities in 7-10 days, as compared with 6-8 weeks for traditional hysterectomy. UFE is also significantly less invasive than a traditional hysterectomy.

Uterine fibroids (leiomyomas) are non-cancerous tumors that grow from the muscle cells in the uterus. The tumors are not dangerous and do not spread within the body.

Women with uterine fibroids may have symptoms including:

  • heavy menstrual bleeding
  • pain or pressure in the abdomen or pelvis
  • enlargement of the abdomen
  • constipation
  • frequent urination
  • painful sexual intercourse

Most women learn of their uterine fibroids after an ultrasound or MRI exam. Uterine fibroids are common in women who are in their early to mid 40’s. Increased risk factors include obesity and high blood pressure. Women who are over the age of 40, as well as those who have a family history of fibroids or are of African-American descent, are at an increased risk for developing fibroids.

Despite these advantages to traditional hysterectomy, many women are not aware of the benefits of UFE. One in five women with fibroids believe that a traditional hysterectomy is the only treatment available to them. Almost 50% of women with fibroids have never heard of UFE. Almost 80% of women who know of UFE did not learn of it from their gynecologist, relying instead on their friends and family.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization is performed through a tiny incision in the skin, usually less than a quarter inch at the groin or the wrist, compared to the 5 to 7 inch incision of a traditional hysterectomy. The Interventional Radiologist then guides a tiny catheter into the uterine arteries and releases tiny particles to block the blood flow into the uterine fibroids. Once the blood flow is cut off, the fibroids are starved of oxygen and nutrients, causing them to shrink. Most women only have a short, overnight stay in the hospital following the embolization

Varicose Vein Treatments

Varicose veins are large, dilated veins visible just beneath the skin, typically seen in the legs, calves, and ankles. In a varicose vein, the valves that ensures forward flow of the blood to the heart are not functioning properly, causing backward pressure and pooling of blood in the limbs. The veins then become weak and enlarged. This is what causes visible bulging and discoloration of the veins.

Many people falsely believe that having varicose veins is only a cosmetic issue. Upon an examination, it may be discovered that varicose veins are a symptom of a significant medical problem and cause many symptoms like leg pain, heaviness, tiredness, cramping, and swelling.

The following options for treating varicose veins include:

  • laser treatment
  • Endovenous laser therapy
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • injections
  • surgical procedures

Laser treatments and ablations usually take less than an hour and provide immediate relief from symptoms, as well as minimal to no scarring. Patients return to work the next day from most varicose vein treatments.

Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty: Spinal Fracture Treatment

Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are minimally invasive procedures designed to alleviate the pain caused by spinal compression fractures to help stabilize the bone and to restore lost vertebral body height.

A compression fracture occurs when the bones in the spine collapse. One of the most common causes of compression fractures is a loss of bone density. Osteoporosis causes more than 750,000 vertebral compression fractures per year

Common risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • osteoporosis
  • age increases risk, especially for women over 50 who have been through menopause
  • smaller body frames
  • family history
  • diets that are low in calcium
  • inactivity or sitting for a long period
  • excessive alcohol use
  • use of tobacco products

If treatments such as rest, physical therapy or pain medication are not providing pain relief or improvement to quality of life, kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty may be recommended.

The five goals of a kyphoplasty procedure are:

  • Strengthen and stabilize the bone
  • Relieve pain caused by spinal fracture
  • Promote increased mobility
  • Restore lost vertebral body height
  • Prevention of further vertebral collapse

During a kyphoplasty procedure, patients are given a local anesthetic to numb the area as well as sedation for comfort. A small incision is made in the skin to guide a needle into the injured vertebral body using x-ray guidance. Once the needle is in place, a balloon is inflated. Medical cement is then inserted into the space formed by the balloon to restore some of the lost vertebral body height. The cement hardens in less than 30 minutes.

The entire treatment may take between 45 and 90 minutes. For most patients, this is an outpatient procedure. The rapid recovery time for a kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty procedure is a major benefit. Patients often leave the office with little to no pain

Minimally invasive solutions for women.

Guided by imaging, the Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Interventional Radiologists and Vascular Surgeons at VIVA perform these procedures in our outpatient facilities conveniently located in the Fredericksburg area. Our nationally recognized physicians take pride in offering the highest quality services in the region. Minimally invasive relief could be right around corner. Call for an appointment today at (540) 654-9118.