Patients with varicose veins now being treated at Berthelsen Main Campus with radiofrequency vein ablation procedure
Kelsey-Seybold has brought another medical procedure in house – radiofrequency vein ablation (RFA) – to help patients with large, painful varicose veins but it didn’t happen overnight. Now being performed on an outpatient basis at the Berthelsen Main Campus by Dr. Atasu Nayak, a board-certified Interventional Cardiology specialist and board-certified Vascular Medicine physician, the procedure previously required that patients be referred out to other vascular specialists. That all changed on September 11, when Dr. Nayak performed the first one at Kelsey-Seybold.
Dr. Atasu Nayak
RFA is a minimally invasive treatment for chronic vein insufficiency leading to large, varicose veins and venous ulcers in the leg, which can cause pain and discomfort that limits mobility. With this procedure, a thin tube, or catheter, is inserted into an enlarged vein. The tip of the catheter is heated using radiofrequency. As it’s pulled out of the vein, the heat destroys the vein by causing it to collapse and seal shut.
“Being able to perform this procedure means we can help people who have no other solution. It’s exciting,” said Dr. Nayak. Since performing his first RFA in September, Dr. Nayak is now doing the procedure on one to two patients per day.
An internal 2017 review showed 105 RFA cases were outsourced, and it was determined the time had come to start doing them here. Dr. Nayak said it took a year and a half of planning meetings, coordination with pharmacy and multiple vendors, training, securing supplies and medical equipment, and preparing the procedure room before the first procedure could be done.
Dr. Nayak went through months of training, a dedicated vascular technologist was hired, and two nurses were trained to help. Sometime next year, Dr. Jonathan Aliota and Dr. Mehran Massumi will also be trained to do RFA. It’s anticipated that between 10 and 12 RFA procedures will be conducted on a weekly basis in 2020.
The procedure is done in a procedure room in Cardiology in about an hour. This includes 15 minutes pre-procedure prep, about 15 minutes for the procedure, and 15 minutes or more post-procedure. Lidocaine, which is a local anesthetic, is applied as a numbing agent so patients remain comfortable throughout the procedure.
“Patients like it because they come in walking and they leave walking,” said Dr. Nayak. “RFA provides immediate relief of symptoms and patients can resume normal activity immediately with little to no pain. They’ll usually wear a compression stocking or bandage for a week or so, then come in for a follow-up appointment when we use ultrasound to make sure the vein is closed.”
Following RFA, which has a 98 percent success rate, blood flow is diverted to healthy veins and circulation is improved.
Cardiologist Dr. Atasu Nayak (center) performs a radiofrequency vein ablation with assistance from a Medtronic Covidian vendor representative and Cardiology Ultrasound Technician Christina Everett (right) in an in-clinic treatment room specially set up for this outpatient procedure.