Category: Treatment

Diabetes and PAD: How We Prevent Lost Limbs

Diabetes and PAD are a dangerous combination. After all, Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) limits your blood flow. Then, high blood sugar levels can also compromise your blood flow. (And cause nerve damage, which makes you lose feeling in your extremities.) The risk for PAD can even begin if you are prediabetic, as this study shows that atherosclerosis (artery hardening) is more common among prediabetics than the general population.

Then, once you are fully diabetic? At that point, the disease is a strong enough risk factor for PAD that some patients will be diagnosed with Diabetic Peripheral Artery Disease (DPAD). And, when dealing with this combination, these factors mean that even small wounds can turn into big infections. At that point, your diabetic ulcer could put you at risk for amputation.

At this point, that possibility is a big problem. According to a new study from Kaiser Health News, this country is facing an epidemic of diabetic foot amputations. In California alone, between 2011 and 2017, 82,000 individuals lost limbs due to diabetic complications.

Limb Loss and Diabetes

As we mentioned, diabetics lose their limbs for a number of reasons.  The disease can raise sugar levels in the bloodstream, which in turn can affect circulation and cause organ damage. Also, according to a new study in the journal Diabetes, the disease damages your red blood cells. Specifically, the disease reduces small molecule microRNA-210 in those cells. And, since those molecules help regulate your vascular function, this may contribute to your risk of diabetic limb loss.

Diabetics also often experience reduced sensation in the extremities (neuropathy), which can threaten limbs in two ways. People with circulatory and nerve damage may not know when they injured their limbs. And, because they have compromised blood circulation, even minor injuries can be slow to heal. Over time, and without routine medical care, these untreated, unhealed injuries become deep wounds (ulcers). Once ulcers develop, diabetics are at immediate risk of losing part of or all of the affected limb.

Unfortunately, matters get worse when you factor in racial inequities. In fact, according to new information revealed in the Circulation journal, Black adults over 50 are at least twice as likely to suffer from PAD as their white peers. They’re also more likely to seek treatment for more advanced disease, and more likely to experience adverse outcomes such as amputation or even death.

Many Amputations are Avoidable

While all the statistics in the study were scary, there’s one fact we, as Houston vein specialists, found particularly scary: many of these amputations would have been avoidable with routine medical care. And, it showed that people who were black or Hispanic were twice as likely to face an amputation, due in large part to inadequate access to care.

So that’s the bad news that we took away from this study, but here’s something that can make you feel more at ease: with proper preventative care, you can keep your diabetes in good control. This can help you prevent devastating complications like amputations.

Cholesterol, Diabetes and PAD

What kind of preventative vein care do we recommend for diabetics? Diabetes can damage your blood vessels (veins, arteries and/or capillaries), causing your body to deposit cholesterol within the vessels in the hopes of preventing further damage.

Now, cholesterol is a waxy substance that occurs naturally in your cells. Your liver also makes cholesterol, or you take in cholesterol from your food. While you may not know this, your body actually needs some cholesterol to function. After all, cholesterol is involved in making vitamin D, your sex hormones, and steroid hormones such as cortisol. Plus, some cholesterol gets converted to bile acids in your body. And you need those acids to absorb vitamins a, d, e and k. In other words, you need a little bit of cholesterol to stay healthy.

But the problems start when your cholesterol levels rise. Because, unfortunately, cholesterol can build up. Then, deposits can clog your arteries, causing a condition known as atherosclerosis. (That’s when your arteries narrow, or harden. It’s what causes PAD, leaving you at risk of heart-related complications.) And that’s where our specialists can help: using interventional radiology techniques, we can remove blockages and help restore your blood flow.

Improved blood flow will reduce your risk of ulcers, help heal existing wounds, and go a long way towards preventing limb loss. Plus, it can help relieve other symptoms of PAD, including pain when you walk, hair loss and skin changes. Even better? Choosing minimally invasive PAD treatment can do more to prevent limb loss.

Amputations, PCBs and Peripheral Arteries

A new review from the European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery suggests that widening your arteries using paclitaxel-coated balloons (PCBs) ups your risk for major amputation. Fortunately, in our office, we can also treat PAD with stents or atherectomy, so you have your choice of limb-saving options. Which, along with diabetes care, may help you preserve your long-term health.

Plus, we’re following new developments in treating PAD. One exciting possibility? LimFlow Inc. is developing a Percutaneous Deep Vein Arterilization System. Basically, it’s a minimally invasive device that can bypass blockages in your leg arteries to boost blood flow.

What’s their goal? To help interventional radiologists like the ones on our team help blood get back to your feet and legs. That way, we can resolve your PAD symptoms, heal any leg ulcers, and improve your quality of life. And, while we’re waiting for more date, initial results from the company’s clinical device trials show that 77% of patients avoided amputations,  85% enjoyed complete wound healing, and 92% of patients started or completed healing.

Diabetes and Varicose Veins

Diabetes and PAD aren’t your only concern: this disease can impact your veins as well. If your blood sugar levels stay elevated for too long, that can damage your blood vessels. Typically, the first blood vessels to experience damage are the ones in your leg. As a result, uncontrolled diabetes can increase your risk for varicose veins.

What does all this mean for you? Well, if you have diabetes, make sure you keep up appointments with your regular medical team. (And make sure to address any circulatory problems right away.)  If you’ve got reduced blood flow or atherosclerosis, make an appointment with our team of experts right away. Doing so might just be the decision you make that saves your limbs!


Sources: Greatist , Kaiser Health news, diabetes.co.uk

What are Compression Socks For Men?

Did you know that compression socks for men are important? We know that when you imagine compression socks, some unattractive images come to mind. And most of them involve little old ladies. But, these days, compression socks for men and women come in all styles!  And, more importantly they support your vein health in many ways. Therefore, we need to take a closer look at the real deal with compression socks.

Who are Compression Socks Designed For?

So many people can benefit from wearing compression socks. People who frequently travel by airplane; pregnant women; people with varicose veins; individuals who must stay on their feet all day for work…even runners looking to boost their performance may be helped by wearing these socks.man in compression socks and converse sneakers

For most people, compression socks help improve circulation to fight vascular conditions like lymphedema, varicose veins and/or chronic venous insufficiency. Still, some athletes choose to wear compression socks. And they do so without experiencing vascular issues, because they can help lower limb swelling.

Because wearing compression socks can also speed up recovery time after a hard training session thanks to the boost they give your blood flow. Plus, compression socks can increase your endurance. (They work to keep your legs from getting too tired.) They may also relieve the pain of aching joints, and help support your muscles and improve your balance.

How Do Compression Socks Work Their Magic?

Compression socks are made from stretchy, snug fabric designed to squeeze your legs and ankles tightly. That squeezing action works with the muscles in your calves to keep blood pumping out of your lower extremities and back up to your heart,  improving blood circulation, and cutting back on pooling blood and potential swelling.

Different styles of socks deliver different pressure—and different results—to your body. There are two main types of compression socks: graded and anti-embolism. Our vein specialists can help you decide what type is right for your needs. But anti-embolism socks are meant for patients confined to their beds. So, while these compression socks may be important if you’re in the hospital, they probably aren’t for you. .

Now, remember: graded compression socks are most common. But there are still choices. Because they come in different lengths, meaning shorter styles will have less of an impact on your legs. They are deliver varying degrees of pressure, measured in mmHg. If your vein doctor has recommended compression socks, it’s important to sit down and discuss the style, length and mmHg levels that your specific condition requires.

How Long Does it Take to See Results?

Remember, everyone responds differently to this kind of therapy. But here are some general expectations you could expect with mild compression therapy. Within a day or so, you should experience relief from swelling.  After one to two weeks, with consistent wearing, tired, heavy legs should feel less fatigued; leg pain should improve; and it may be easier to get through your daily activities. Finally, once you’ve been wearing them for several months, you may even notice a reduced appearance of spider or varicose veins.

Where Can I Get Compression Socks?

Here’s the good news: compression socks are really easy to get a hold of. You can find them in a number of places: the drug store, our offices (or your primary healthcare providers). Heck, you can even get them online!

Bear in mind that online or in stores, you may not enjoy the widest selection available. Also, the pressure rating may not be sufficient to meet your vein health needs. So, what’s the best way to get what you need out of your stockings? See your vein specialists and score a prescription for compression socks. That way, you’ll be sure that the pair you receive is ideally suited for your specific needs. Plus, with a medical prescription, you may be able to use insurance to cover the cost of your stockings.

Do you have questions about how compression socks can benefit your vascular health? Or how you can obtain a prescription for your compression stockings? Just schedule a consultationschedule a consultationschedule a consultation with one of our Houston and Dallas area vein specialists!

Hemorrhoid Embolization vs Other Treatment Options

How does hemorrhoid embolization compare to other minimally invasive treatments for internal hemorrhoids? And how can you choose the best treatment for your condition? Keep reading to find out!

What are hemorrhoids?

Between 5 and 40% of the population have hemorrhoids,  or swollen veins in your anus or lower rectum.  There are two kinds of hemorrhoids: internal, located inside your rectum, and external, located outside. While external hemorrhoids are more likely to cause pain, internal hemorrhoids can be painful, but prone to bleeding.

In fact, chronic bleeding is the main symptom people with internal hemorrhoids complain about. As such, our patients typically seek treatment for internal hemorrhoids when they notice blood in their stool.

Hemorrhoid Treatment Options woman sitting on toilet

There are several minimally invasive treatment options for internal hemorrhoids. These include changes to your diet; oral medications; injections; and therapies such as rubber band ligation. However, for a good 10% of patients with internal hemorrhoids, these treatments failed. The result? Until recently, those individuals were left with two options: continue suffering, or schedule a hemorrhoidectomy. (That’s the surgical removal of these swollen veins.)  But surgery comes with its own risk of complications. And that led to the development of a superior treatment option: hemorrhoid embolization.

Hemorrhoid Embolization: A Superior Treatment Option

Developed approximately 10 years ago, hemorrhoid embolization is a new way to treat stage 1 through 3 internal hemorrhoids. But how does it compare to other treatment options? Here’s what you need to know. When you choose hemorrhoid embolization, you don’t have to worry about anal incontinence or rectal wounds. Plus, this procedure allows you to retain the tissue surrounding your hemorrhoids, and you get to avoid general anesthesia and an overnight hospital stay. Best of all, most patients can resume their full activity level just three days after the procedure.

Of course, all of that sounds great. But we know you have one more question. Does hemorrhoid embolization last? Well, here’s some more great news. While other treatments for internal hemorrhoids have a 49% recurrence rate (meaning your hemorrhoids come back again) hemorrhoid embolizations have a success rate that hovers around 90%. So, what does that mean for you?

If you want relief from the discomfort, itchiness and bleeding of internal hemorrhoids, you can do so without invasive surgery. Contact our interventional radiologists in Houston and Dallas. We’ll schedule a consultation to determine if you’re a candidate for hemorrhoid embolization.



What is the main BPH treatment?

If you’re suffering from benign protastic hyperplasia (BPH, or prostate enlargement), you may want to know: what is the main treatment for BPH? Well, thanks to today’s medical advancements, there are several effective treatment options. Let’s take a closer look at this condition and how our Houston and Dallas interventional radiologists can relieve its symptoms.

What is BPH?

Men are diagnosed with this condition when their prostate gland becomes enlarged for reasons other than cancer. Remember, the prostate is part of men’s reproductive system; shaped like a walnut, this gland produces the fluid portion of semen. Located at the neck of your bladder, the gland surrounds the urethra. As such, if it becomes enlarged, it can cause what are described as LUTS (lower urinary tract symptoms.)

What are 2 Symptoms of BPH? toilet paper roll with the words Don't Panic printed on it

Two of the most common symptoms of an enlarged prostate include an inability to urinate or dribbling at the endo of urinary flow. Other BPH symptoms include:

  • Inability to completely empty the bladder
  • Incontinence
  • 2 or more nightly urination needs
  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful urination 
  • A slow, delayed start to urination
  • Sudden need to urinate, without any warning

What is the main BPH treatment?

If you want to relieve these symptoms, you’ll need to treat BPH. And the treatment you choose will depend on the severity of your symptoms. For some men, watchful waiting will be the best option. This involves monitoring your symptoms for changes, and ensuring that your condition isn’t progressing.

With this approach, you can also make lifestyle changes that could reduce the impact of your symptoms. Experts suggest urinating as soon as you feel the urge, and scheduling regular bathroom trips, even when you don’t feel the need to go.

Additionally, you should skip alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, especially in the evening. Avoid all fluids within two hours of your desired bedtime, and try to sip small amounts of fluid throughout the day, rather than consuming large beverages in one sitting.

When experiencing LUTS, you should try to stick to a regular exercise schedule, since a sedentary lifestyle can worsen symptoms. Manage your stress, since tension can increase your urge to urinate. And use decongestants and antihistamines with care, since they can worsen your symptoms as well.

BPH Treatment Medications

Some men will need to treat BPH with prescription medications. Drugs such as finasteride and dutasteride can reduce your prostate’s hormonal production, simultaneously helping reduce its size. (Most men need to take these medications for three to six months before seeing symptom improvement.) Others can try Alpha-1 blockers, a group of medications designed to lower blood pressure, since they relax your bladder neck muscles and prostate, making it easier for you to urinate. However, every medication comes with side effects and the possibility of interacting with medications. As such, you may wish to seek other ways to treat BPH.

BPH Treatment without Medication or Surgery

Recently, the FDA approved Prostate Artery Embolization, or PAE as an effective form of BPH treatment. We perform this outpatient procedure in our Houston and Dallas interventional radiology offices, helping relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate. While not everyone is a candidate for this treatment option, you may benefit from PAE if you continue to experience BPH symptoms after trying medications, if you prefer to avoid surgery or are not a candidate for an invasive procedure.

Ready to find relief from LUTS and other effects of benign prostatic hyperplasia? When lifestyle measures and medications fail, non-surgical relief is still available. Contact our Houston and Dallas specialists today to discuss PAE as a BPH treatment.


A New Way to Treat BPH

When you have Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), we know that you’ll be researching ways to treat BPH. But what is this condition, what symptoms does it cause, and when should you seek medical intervention? Keep reading for all these answers and more.

What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia? An older man on a hike

BPH is a common condition that affects males, enlarging their prostates and causing a variety of symptoms. Now, not every affected individual will experience the same symptoms. Yet some of the more common effects of this condition involve Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS), including:

  • Urge Incontinence, or a sudden need to urinate without warning, and without the ability to control the urge
  • Incontinence
  • Nocturia, when you have to wake up in the middle of the night to urinate two or more times
  • Hesitancy, when you have a difficult time getting urine to start flowing
  • Straining to pass urine
  • Pain when urinating
  • An inability to completely empty your bladder with urination
  • Dribbling of urine at the end of the flow
  • Frequent UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections)
  • Bladder stones
  • Blood in your urine
  • Smaller bladder capacity (decompensation)

Causes of BPH

We don’t know exactly why men develop this condition. But we do know that your age, your testosterone levels, and changes to your testicular cells can increase your risk. In fact, most men over 40 have some degree of prostate enlargement, and close to 100% of men over the age of 80 develop this condition.

When to Treat BPH

The decision to treat an enlarged prostate will depend on how intrusive your symptoms are to your daily life. Also, the severity of symptoms will help determine your appropriate treatment plan. For some men, simple lifestyle changes, such as urinating as soon as you feel the need; limiting caffeine and alcohol intake; getting regular exercise; managing stress; and avoiding certain medications can help you manage symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

Other men, however, will need more serious interventions to relieve BPH symptoms. In the past, the best available options were prescribed medications or surgery. Today, however, there’s a new way to treat BPH, with a minimally invasive procedure known as Prostate Artery Embolization, or PAE.

PAE to Treat BPH: A New Hope for Men with LUTS

Recently, the American Urologic Association approved PAE for treating BPH. This minimally invasive, same-day, outpatient procedure can relieve BPH symptoms with minimal risks for sexual side effects or for causing incontinence. Performed with mild sedation or general anesthesia, our interventional radiologists in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston areas start PAE by inserting a small catheter into your wrist. Next, guided by X-ray technology, we can insert beads that block blood flow to the prostate, causing it to shrink within two weeks of the procedure. In turn, bothersome BPH symptoms should improve, and you may even enjoy improved sexual health.

Ready to treat BPH without surgery or added side effects? Reach out to our team today. We’ll review your  symptoms and determine if PAE is your best treatment option.

Important Facts About Hemorrhoid Embolization

Hemorrhoid embolization is one of the newest treatment options for painful internal hemorrhoids. But what are internal hemorrhoids, why do they form, and why is embolization an ideal treatment option? This post highlights everything you need to know!

What are internal hemorrhoids and why do they form?

Internal hemorrhoids form inside your rectum. They often develop because of pressure from straining when you’re trying to have a bowel movement. Symptoms include bleeding when you pass stool along with mild discomfort. Based on the severity of your symptoms, your hemorrhoids will be diagnosed on a grade scale between 1 and 4. Many people discover they have internal hemorrhoids when they notice blood spots on their toilet paper or in the bowl.

What are the newest procedures for treating hemorrhoids? Diagram of internal hemorrhoids

Grade 1 hemorrhoids can usually be managed with diet and lifestyle changes, by adding more water intake and fiber during the day. But grade 2, 3 and 4 hemorrhoids will need more invasive interventions. And, in the past, treating these grades of internal hemorrhoids was challenging. Your only option was to surgically remove the hemorrhoids.

Luckily, today, we have new and promising treatment options, including laser treatment and hemorrhoid embolization. And, as the research shows, embolization is a minimally invasive treatment option that is showing equal or better results compared to surgery. Better yet, it delivers those results with a far easier recovery period and fewer risks for complications.

What is hemorrhoid embolization?

When you develop internal hemorrhoids,  the Corpus Cavernosum Recti (CCR) network of veins and arteries gets involved. As a result, a hemorrhoid embolization aims to reduce CCR blood flow, reducing pain, pressure, and other hemorrhoid symptoms such as itching, pain and bleeding.

What can you expect during the procedure? To begin with, we’ll insert a small catheter through a miniscule hole in your wrist or groin, guiding it to the blood vessels in your rectum via X-ray. Once in place, we’ll implant small coils in your blood vessels. This will block them, reducing blood flow, pressure, and unwanted symptoms. The entire procedure lasts about 45 minutes. It doesn’t hurt, almost never involves an overnight hospital stay, and most patients can go back to work the day after their procedure.

What is the success rate of hemorrhoid embolization?

Because the procedure is relatively new, long term data is not yet available. However, the results we do have so far are extremely promising. In a 2016 French study following 40 patients with grade 1 to 3 internal hemorrhoids, not one patient had experienced a post-procedural complication at the one-month mark. Better yet, 94% of the patients had experienced relief from the procedure.

More recently, a 2018 study followed up with 25 patients with grade 2 and 3 diagnoses, one year after receiving hemorrhoid embolization. In this French study, there were once again zero post-procedural complications. And 78% of the patients still experienced relief a full year after their embolizations.

Choosing Hemorrhoid Embolization in Houston and Dallas, TX

While this procedure is safe and effective, we recommend hemorrhoid embolization to patients with grade 2 or 3 internal hemorrhoids. Before choosing embolization, you should try non-surgical treatments, including hygiene and dietary changes and medications. If those treatment options have failed you, and you’re still seeking relief from internal hemorrhoids, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our Dallas and Houston area interventional radiologists, offering hemorrhoid embolization and other minimally-invasive interventions!

What is Genicular Artery Embolization?

What is genicular artery embolization and how can it help your knee pain or other osteoarthritis pain? Genicular artery embolization (GAE) is a  minimally invasive treatment that can relieve osteoarthritis-related knee pain without surgery. In some cases, it may even help you delay or avoid a knee replacement. While it’s a relatively new procedure in the U.S. and Europe, results from Japan indicate that it can completely change the way we treat some joint pain. Plus, with relatively high success rates, this procedure is quickly gaining popularity around the globe!

What Causes Osteoarthritis Knee Pain?

Approximately 13% of women and 10% of men over the age of 60 suffer from osteoarthritis. The disease attacks the lining of your joints, including your knee joints. The resulting pain and inflammation can be debilitating, leaving people seeking relief to maintain mobility.

For some, simple interventions such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can help manage discomfort. Others need a full knee replacement in order to stop the pain. But, for those who need a bit more relief and wish to steer clear of surgery, GAE is a wonderful middle ground.

Genicular Artery Embolization: What’s Involved a woman's knees

This minimally-invasive osteoarthritis treatment is a great option for people who don’t get enough relief from conservative treatments. It’s also perfect for those who can’t or won’t undergo surgery. Here’s how it works.

When you choose GAE, we inject tiny microscopic plastic beads (about the size of a grain of sand) into your leg arteries that supply the knee joint, via a small catheter. That procedure shuts down blood flow to your hypervascular joint lining (the synovium.) This helps relieve your knee pain because osteoarthritis can cause inflammation and thickening of the synovium. In turn, that inflammation worsens your pain. As a result, when you cut off blood flow to the synovium, inflammation and pain improve immediately. You may even be able to prevent cartilage breakdown through this procedure.

Why Choose GAE?

When you choose genicular artery embolization for osteoarthritis, you can expect to experience prolonged relief from joint pain relief. You should be able to walk with greater ease, especially on tricky stops such as stairs. Also, embolizing the synovium can reduce inflammation and slow arthritis progression. And, perhaps most importantly, GAE is an outpatient procedure. Plus, it’s minimally invasive, so your recovery period is shorter and you won’t have to stay overnight at the hospital. In fact, most people can resume their normal activities (with minimal restrictions) the day after their procedure.

Alternative to Knee Replacement Surgery

Perhaps the biggest benefit of GAE is that it helps you avoid surgery, so you won’t need to worry about incisions, stitches, or staples. You can also avoid general anesthesia, reducing the risk of complications following your procedure.

Also, you can undergo genicular artery embolization more than once. So, if your knee pain relief wears off (which may happen after a period of six months to a year) you can choose to undergo another embolization, reducing your pain and once again slowing osteoarthritis progression.

Want to learn more about GAE, and see if this procedure can help you stay active and pain-free, even with arthritis? Schedule a consultationSchedule a consultationSchedule a consultation with our Houston or Dallas area interventional radiologists. Together, we’ll determine if this is your best osteoarthritis treatment option.




What’s the success rate of genicular artery embolization?

Recently, we began offering a new alternative knee replacement in our offices, and now patients wonder, what is the success rate of genicular artery embolization? In a minute, we’ll highlight all the important stats on this minimally invasive treatment for osteoarthritis in your knee. But first, we want to explain exactly what’s involved with this procedure.

What is genicular artery embolization? hand holding knee in pain

Genicular artery embolization, or GAE, is an alternative to knee replacement surgery. It’s a great osteoarthritis treatment option for patients who aren’t ready to totally replace their knee joints.

Ideal for people who have mild arthritis, GAE is a great middle of the road treatment option–less invasive than surgery but more aggressive than options like anti-inflammatory medications or physical therapy. But how does this treatment option work? Basically, genicular artery embolization cuts off blood flow to the hypervascular joint lining, called the synovium.

Why is this an effective treatment for osteoarthritis? Well, the synovium is a vascular lining. So, when you develop osteoarthritis in your knee, the disease causes inflammation and thickening in the joint lining. Pain quickly follows.Then,to combat that pain, our Dallas and Houston interventional radiologists insert a small catheter into one of your leg arteries. Next, we use x-rays to image your blood vessels (angiogram) so we can pinpoint the origins of your inflammation. Armed with that information, we can inject tiny particles into that catheter to flow down to the inflamed portions of your synovium. This injection decreases blood flow, and inflammation, to your knee. And that reduces your pain while improving your joint function. 

What is the success rate of genicular artery embolization?

We know that there are many benefits to this alternative knee replacement. By reducing inflammation in your joint lining, GAE can help slow osteoarthritis progression. Plus, as a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure, you can access this osteoarthritis treatment without a hospital stay or extensive healing time. Instead, you show up in the morning and get to return home a few hours later, jumping back into your normal light activities the next day.

Also, when you choose GAE, you can avoid surgical incisions, skin stitches and staples. And to undergo the procedure, you don’t need general anesthesia– we keep you calm and comfortable with mild sedation. Perhaps best of all is the fact that GAE reduces your risk for surgical and post-surgical complications. Plus, we can perform the procedure multiple times at no additional risk to your help, helping you dramatically delay the need for knee joint replacement surgery.

But what is the success rate of genicular artery embolization? Clinically, we’ve seen that most patients enjoy as much as six months of osteoarthritis symptom relief after genicular artery embolization. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Instead, you can trust the science, as a recent study revealed that the technical success rate for this procedure was 99.7%. With minimal counter-indications and few risks associated with this procedure, these numbers make genicural artery embolization an extremely effective treatment for osteoarthritis in your knee. Contact our vein specialists in Houston and Dallas today to see if this is the right knee replacement alternative for you!

Here’s How Our Alternative Knee Replacement Works

Recently, our interventional radiologists in Dallas and Houston started offering an alternative knee replacement procedure. Called GAE, or Genicular Artery Embolization, this minimally invasive procedure relieves knee pain and inflammation by decreasing blood flow to spots that have been damaged by osteoarthritis. But why do you get osteoarthritis? Why does this condition damage your knee? And why might you need an alternative knee replacement to relieve your pain? Let’s dive in and find out!

What Causes Knee Damage man with elbows on knees

The joints in your knee are meant to work like hinges, letting you bend it and move with ease. And, when working properly, this great design lets your kneel, walk, run and jump without even thinking about your movements. Unfortunately, all that activity can wear down the joints in your knee. When that happens, the cartilage that covers your knee bones starts to wear down or even tear. Now, osteoarthritis can set in. And pain will follow shortly, along with stiffness and limits on your mobility.

As you age, your knees are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, 10% of men over the age of 60 and 13% of women in that age group suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee. They all want pain relief. And many wish to avoid surgery. For that reason, alternative knee replacements like GAE are in-demand procedures.

Alternative Knee Replacement: What to Expect with GAE

While genicular artery embolization is a relatively new treatment for osteoarthritis, it’s already a promising one. And that’s because it takes a new approach to relieving knee pain: targeting inflammation, instead of cartilage degradation. You see, while bone-on-bone contact degrades your bones, inflammation can speed up that degradation. So, by relieving inflammation, we can often slow osteoarthritis progression. In turn, you can find knee pain relief without surgery.

But how long does GAE relief last? In one study from UCLA Medical Center, researchers followed 40 patients for one year after receiving genicular artery embolization.  At the end of that year, 70% of the patients said they had less pain, less stiffness and less difficulty walking. Even better? They’d found relief with this alternative knee replacement, even though other non-surgical treatments, like injections, hasn’t helped them previously.

Inside the Procedure

How does genicular arthery embolization work? When you come in for this outpatient procedure, we’ll make a tiny incision in the crease of your leg so we can gain access for a catheter to your femoral artery. Next, guided by specialized imaging, we’ll get the catheter to up to three of the seven genicular arteries feeding your knee joint’s blood supply.

During the procedure, you’ll be awake, so you can help us pinpoint the exact source of your knee pain. Once we’ve identified the ideal targets, we’ll insert small beads into the catheter, cutting off blood flow to the arteries responsible for your painful inflammation. Altogether, this procedure should last about two hours. Once we’re done, we’ll keep you for observation until we’re sure you’re doing well. Then, while you’ll need to modify your activity levels for a few days after GAE, you’ll be able to go home on the same day as the procedure, without having to stay overnight in a hospital.

Alternative Knee Replacement: Who is a Candidate?

Are you wondering if GAE is your best option for treating knee pain? Ideally, patients asking for genicular artery embolization will have suffered with chronic knee pain for at least six months. And they should try at least one other non-surgical treatment option first. If you smoke, GAE probably isn’t for you, as this habit could impede your recovery. Not a smoker? And ready to find relief without surgery? Contact our Dallas or Houston offices and ask for a alternative knee replacement consultationask for a alternative knee replacement consultationask for a alternative knee replacement consultation.


There are Stages of Vein Disease: Don’t Delay Treatment!

Did you know that there are chronic venous insufficiency stages, and that approximately 75% of adults suffer from some form of this condition? That’s right, this is a progressive condition, and that means early-stage sufferers may not even know there’s a problem!

In fact, the Clinical Etiology Anatomy Pathophysiology classification lists six distinct stages. They begin at C0, where you have no visible sign of vein disease. Next, at C1 you have noticeable spider veins. Progress to C2? Now, varicose veins emerge. By C3, you’re worrying about edema. And if you get to C6? Well, at this point, you’ve got an active venous leg ulcer to address.

Now, all of that is really important information to understand. Especially if you’ve been delaying treating your spider veins.  Do you hate how they look, but aren’t sure if there’s a good medical reason to get rid of them? If so, you NEED to read this blog post.

Why? Because, if left untreated, the vein problems you’re already experiencing will get worse. And they can lead to further medical complications. In fact, by the end of this post, we’re guessing you’ll be ready to talk vein treatment. But first, let’s review three clear signs that pushing off your vein treatment is no longer an option.

Stages of Vein Disease

Vein disease gets worse if left alone. So you should seek treatment in the early stages of vein disease. And, to help you do that, here are the different stops along the way to serious vein disease.

STAGE 1: You’ll notice small red or blue veins under your skin. They may look like tree branches, and will be one millimeter or less in diameter. But, while they’re small, they still mean your leg veins have leaky valves.

STAGE 2: Here come the varicose veins. They are larger, blue twisted veins that bulge under the surface of your skin. at this stage, you may also develop symptoms. These include heaviness, itching, pain, inflammation, or even a ruptured vein, which can lead to bleeding events.

STAGE 3: Edema and lympheda become problems. Your legs and ankles swell from pooling blood in your lower leg. Your skin may feel tight. And it could take on a leathery appearance.

STAGE 4: Your skin changes colors. Usually, you’ll notice rust colored skin, especially around your calves and ankles. Again, this change comes from pooling blood in your lower legs.

STAGE 5: You may develop wounds (leg ulcers). While they may form scars, they’ll be difficult to heal.

STAGE 6: Your ulcers could bleed (Venous stasis ulcers). They could also leak pus or fluid. They may give off bad odors. And they’ll leave skin feeling tender or even burning.  These ulcers also increase yoru risk for skin infections or even amputations in extreme situations.

This is When to Seek Varicose Vein Treatment cellulitis on leg

As we mentioned, there are stages of vein disease. And, as with all progressive conditions, early treatment is best. So here are the clear signs it’s time to seek vein treatment.

  1. You notice dilated leg veins: Dark, vivid veins are unsightly. But visibly dilated veins expand in size, and that’s a clear sign to seek treatment.
  2. Your legs are tired and heavy: If your legs are heavy or numb or just-plain tired, varicose veins are impacting your quality of life.
  3. You develop phlebitis: Phlebitis causes inflammation in specific venous areas. The surrounding skin gets red and hot to the touch. You may also notice lumps beneath your skin. (And they’ll be painful!) You’ll usually notice this problem in your lower legs. But small surface veins in your arms, breasts or penis can also be impacted. There are two types of phlebitis: one that impacts surface veins, and one that hits your deeper veins. Superficial phlebitis isn’t a major medical concern, but phlebitis in your deeper veins (also called DVT, or deep vein thrombosis) is a medical emergency. In fact, it could be fatal if not treated quickly.
  4. And this condition is a clear sign to seek immediate treatment for your varicose veins.

Now we know how to spot the crucial moment to seek vein treatment, let’s look at what happens if you don’t.

If you ignore varicose veins in the early stages of vein disease, they won’t stay the way they are. And they certainly won’t get better! Instead, these bulging veins will get larger and more dangerous. (See the six stages of vein disease above.)

So…that’s the bad news. But here’s the good: we can stop this progression in its tracks with proper vein treatments.

And the earlier you seek treatment, the greater the variety of treatment options you’ll be offered ( all of which we’ll review in 3…2…1…

Top Treatment Options for Varicose Veins man holding knee

Depending on your disease progression, you may be eligible for one or more of the following treatments:

  1. Cosmetic sclerotherapy. If you aren’t having symptoms, or your veins are near the surface, this is a great choice. Treatment addresses unsightly veins that don’t show serious disease symptoms. It’s fast, minimally invasive and requires no sedation or anesthesia.
  2. Ultrasound-guided Sclerotherapy. This outpatient procedure is the best way to treat spider leg veins. We inject solution into your affected vein. Next, it shrinks and closes so blood flows through healthier veins, instead. Once the vein closes, it disappear from view over time. And the procedure takes just 15 minutes.  Afterwards, you wear compression stockings for a week. But you can get back to normal activities right away, making sure to walk for at least 30 minutes each day.

Ablation Treatment for Vein Disease

Another option our Houston vein specialists offer is radiofrequency vein ablation (RFA), typically used to treat varicose veins and other problems caused by venous insufficiency or reflux.

RFA is a minimally invasive procedure in which a catheter is inserted into an abnormal vein, heating the vein to close it permanently. Radiofrequency ablation requires only a local anesthetic, causes little or no pain, and leaves virtually no scar. The outpatient procedure takes less than an hour to perform and patients can resume normal activities immediately afterward.

Finally,  there is ambulatory phlebectomy—a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to remove bulging varicose veins located just below the skin.

Phlebectomy is performed under local anesthesia. Several small incisions are made to extract your bulging varicose vein. Since we make small incisions, you won’t need stitches and scarring is minimal or even non-existent. We call this procedure “ambulatory” because you can walk immediately after we get done!

Before recommending any of our vein treatments, our vein specialists will perform a thorough exam and discuss all your available options. Together, we’ll decide on the best way to stop your progressive vein disease in its tracks! So make your appointment todaySo make your appointment todaySo make your appointment today!

Sources: Cleveland Clinic 

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