Sapheon, the company that is introducing “superglue” to close veins without needing so many anaesthetic injections, has launched a study in the UK.
Three centres, two NHS and one private (Charing Cross in London, Countess of Chester Hospital in Chester, and The Whiteley Clinic in Guildford) have all been selected to be part of this study.
Patients with varicose veins that fit the eligibility criteria will be offered treatment with this new glue technique.
In principle, a simple local anaesthetic injection will be used to pass a long thin tube (called a catheter) up the Great Saphenous Vein (GSV) under ultrasound guidance. In most endovenous techniques, this is then followed by the injection of local anaesthetic around the vein – a process called tumescence. This tumescence is essential when the vein is heated by laser or radiofrequency ablation.
Unfortunately, many patients find these injections uncomfortable and so a great effort has gone into finding ways around this technique.
The Sapheon system uses glue to stick the inside of the vein together and so no local anaesthetic is required.
The current study is going to look at a number of patients over one year to check that the system closes the vein successfully. Clearly, if the system is not effective, the advantages of fewer injections is irrelevant. However if the treatment proves as effective as expected, this could be a major advancement in venous surgery.
The original VNUS Closure catheter was a “bipolar” radiofrequency catheter – which meant it had a pair of electrodes that passed electrical current between them at radiofrequency rates, to treat the vein wall.
In 2005, VNUS launched the VNUS ClosureFAST catheter, to speed up the treatment of the Great Saphenous and Small Saphenous truncal Veins (GSV and SSV). Although still billed as “radiofrequency ablation“, the radiofrequency merely heated a 7 cm tip to 120°C. When the catheter was in the vein itself, this heat held for the right amount of time ablated the vein wall, causing the vein to close perfectly. Many studies have shown the efficacy of this technique and the patient satisfaction with a minimally invasive approach and low post-operative discomfort.
One of the criticisms of this 7cm VNUS Closure FAST catheter was that with such a long treatment tip, it was not possible to treat more complex veins which might only have sections of 6 cm or less that need treatment.
To counter this, Venefit (formerly VNUS) have now added a 3 cm catheter to their range, to allow surgeons to treat smaller sections of veins if they require, but keeping the same advantages of the VNUS Closure FAST technique.