Radio frequency endovenous ablation treatment is a treatment for varicose veins in which a radio frequency probe is inserted into the vein to be treated, and heat is used to close and scar down the damaged vein. This causes the vein to contract as the heated fiber is slowly withdrawn. Some minor complications can occur, including thrombophlebitis, pain, hematoma, edema and infection, which can lead to cellulitis. These all are rare occurrences.
During the procedure, a catheter bearing a radio frequency fiber is inserted under ultrasound guidance into the great saphenous vein (GSV) or small saphenous vein (SSV) through a small puncture wound. The catheter is then advanced (also under ultrasound guidance) to the level of the groin or knee crease. Dilute local anesthetic is injected around and along the vein (perivascular infiltration). The fiber is activated while it is slowly withdrawn, resulting in obliteration of the saphenous vein along its entire length. The treatment, which is performed without sedation, usually takes between 1 and 2 hours and the patient walks out under his or her own power. The leg is bandaged and/or placed in a stocking that the patient wears for 3 weeks afterwards. Foam sclerotherapy or ambulatory phlebectomy can be performed following this radio frequency procedure to treat branch varicose veins. However, these procedures are unusaly not preformed at the time of the radio frequency ablation because the varicose veins can improve on their own as a result of reduced reflux from the treated greater saphenous vein.