What is Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)?
At a basic level, Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA or EVLT) is the closing of certain veins that can cause varicose veins, venous eczema or leg ulcers with laser energy. The name itself is made up of the following parts:
‘Endovenous’ – this means that the treatment is inside the vein rather than the older surgical treatments where the surgeon cuts down onto the outside of the vein and ties them off. ‘Endovenous’ means that the treatments come from instruments or devices placed within the vein itself
‘Laser‘ – this means “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. Put simply, laser is light energy that is all in one wavelength and, most importantly, the waves are all in line with each other, allowing the transmission of energy in the laser beam. In addition, laser light can travel down optical fibres allowing the energy to be transmitted internally within the body – in this case within veins
‘Ablation‘ – this means destruction of the vein but more specifically, in a way that means that the vein is killed and shrivels away rather than being vaporised. This is very important when it comes to understanding the treatment of veins with EVLA.
Therefore Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA or EVLT) is the destruction of veins by inserting laser energy into the vein itself and destroying it from within. As will be discussed further in this website, this means that large veins that previously had to be treated by destructive, traditional “open surgery” can now be treated under local anaesthetic with pinholes only. Not only is this advantageous in terms of smaller incisions and less pain, but as will be described, the recurrence rates from Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA or EVLT) are far smaller than with traditional “tying” or “stripping” surgery.
Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) is the general term that means treating veins with endovenous laser, although some people use “ELT”. Other terms have been used by companies relating to specific products. The commonest is EVLT, which was the first of the devices produced by a company called Diomed which related to a specific 810 nm laser. However, the term EVLT has become so widely known that it is now often used when referring to other lasers with different wavelengths made by different companies and hence will be quoted in this site with EVLA.