How do I stay up to date on news from Baird Vascular Institute?

Baird Vascular staying in touch

If you’ve been a long time follower of VCU Health’s Baird Vascular Institute on Facebook or Twitter, you may have noticed that we did away with our presence on those social networks, as part of a larger, streamlined plan by VCU Health to consolidate their messaging across the brand.

Rest assured, you can still follow along with our blog for updates, topics of interest and answers to any of your questions. If you have a particular topic you’d like us to write about, just email us.

If you follow along on the VCU Health social accounts, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge about all sorts of health–related topics, including our specialties. You can find VCU Health on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram!

Since 2011, we have been proud to serve our patients with the expertise of a major medical center and the convenience of a neighborhood clinic. Whether you are referred by your physician or wish a personal consultation, we have both the expertise and the latest technologies and techniques to diagnose and treat vascular disease and other problems.

So, don’t forget to check back here often for news, information and updates, and as always – If you are interested in a consultation for any of the services we provide, please contact us at (804) 828-2600 or send us an email.

Why now is the perfect time to get rid of your spider & varicose veins

baird fall leg vein treatment

Most people start to think about their spider or varicose veins right about the late springtime when the weather gets warm and they go to put on shorts for the first time of the year. That’s a natural reaction, but truthfully – right now – in the fall, is the very best time to have a procedure done on your leg veins.

We talked to Dr. Malcolm Sydnor about why you should consider having your leg veins treated now, instead of in the spring. “if you have spider or reticular veins on your legs, we will use a tiny needle in a process called sclerotherapy to inject those things to get rid of them.” Sclerotherapy involves using a tiny needle to inject individual spider veins with a solution that makes them shrink. As they shrink, blood is channeled to deeper veins, making the spider veins on the surface almost invisible. “Afterward,” he continued, “we are going to need you to stay out of the sun until those veins have totally resolved – otherwise you’re going to see pigmentation changes on the skin where those veins were.”

Dr. Sydnor continued, “If the sun hits those locations before they fully resolve, the blood cells that remain will release a pigment that you can see on your skin. It’s because of that reason that we like to perform the vast majority of cosmetic treatments retail for spider veins in the fall.”

“Other treatments such as endovenous thermal ablation, are not as affected by sun exposure because the vein is much farther under the skin,” he continued. Endovenous thermal ablation (EVTA) is an alternative to surgically removing varicose veins. The team uses ultrasound to guide a small catheter tipped with a laser or radio frequency emitter into the vein. The catheter delivers just enough laser or radio wave heat to cause the vein to close, collapse and seal shut, without affecting nearby tissue. The treated vein is absorbed by the body and disappears within a few months. EVTA not only treats your large varicose veins, but also eliminates many smaller unsightly ones.

Although we welcome patients any time of the year, ideally our physicians recommend a fall time frame so that the legs have plenty of time to heal before exposure to the warm summer sun.

Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options. You may decide that beautiful legs are worth it.

Can varicose veins come back?

Baird Varicose Veins come back

Varicose veins are enlarged veins in the legs near the surface of the skin, ranging from tiny to large.

Most people associate varicose veins with prominent, swollen, twisted, and ropelike veins wrapping their legs, often dark blue in color – and often quite painful. These are symptomatic varicose veins. They develop over time, with factors such as age, family history, pregnancy, weight gain, and prolonged standing all possible contributing factors. They’re caused by weakened valves in the leg veins that flow blood back to your heart. When the valves weaken, blood pools and builds pressure in the leg veins, causing them to swell, expand and twist as the walls of the veins are weakened – and the weakened valves and veins are prone to clots or hemorrhaging, which is why treatment is so important.

But once treatment is done, can those veins come back? We talked to Dr. Malcom Sydnor about this issue. “If you’re undergoing a procedure to get rid of your varicose veins,” he said, “most likely you’re undergoing a procedure called endovenous thermal ablasion, which is an alternative to surgically removing varicose veins. The problem starts in the upper leg and goes down to the lower leg where it results in the surface vein you see.”

“Treatment starts with getting rid of the vein underneath that causes the problem to begin with,” continued Dr. Sydnor. “Then we do other therapies to get rid of the surface veins you actually see, and 93% of the time those veins stay away for good.”

However, Dr. Sydnor continued, “There are a small percentage of patients, about seven percent, that may see a recurrence. That happens when a new pathway of reflux, or backwards flow of blood occurs, and those patients may get a recurrence of some degree.

If you’d like to talk to us about your varicose veins, call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

 

I’ve had an IVC filter for a long time, should I be concerned?

Baird IVC Filter

Inferior vena cava filters, or IVC filters, whether they are permanent or retrievable types, are designed to be left in the body for a long time. They are made from stainless steel or a metal alloy and are designed to withstand years of placement within a human body.

“Occasionally, though, those filters can have problems,” said Dr. Brian Strife, at VCU Health’s Baird Vascular Institute. “The three main problems we see are the filter itself developing blood clots and blocking the main vein, the IVC, which can result in swelling and extreme pain in the lower extremities. Also, the metal itself in the filter can stress or fatigue, causing the filter to break, and pieces of the filter can migrate into the patient and damage adjacent organs, and very rarely, pieces of the filter can break and go into the heart and lungs.”

These types of issues are extremely uncommon, assures Dr. Strife. “We do know these issues are sometimes a cause of patient concern and anxiety, and we often receive calls from patients asking whether or not their filter needs to be removed to avoid these complications.”

“In 2010, the FDA recommended that physicians who placed these filters and physicians who treated patients with the filters make an attempt to consider filter retrieval when that filter is no longer needed,” Dr. Strife continued. “Sometimes that’s a tough call,” he said, “because we don’t necessarily know which patients are best suited to have an IVC filter in for the rest of their life.”

When a patient calls our office with an IVC filter they would like to have removed, we first have that patient come in for a consultation to discuss why they had the filter in the first place, then we will make a decision on whether retrieval is appropriate for them or not. “Sometimes that’s an easy decision to make,” said Dr. Strife, “and sometimes we need to run further tests and consult with other physicians before making that decision.”

If you would like to discuss concerns or problems you may be experiencing or if your doctor has recommended that you see us for a vascular test, please contact us at (804) 828-2600 or email us.

 

Getting back to good health – Carrie’s story

carrie-brinson.png

Carrie Brinson Schulze and her husband, Ryan Schulze

When you visit or are referred to VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute complaining of leg pain, we take a very close look at what’s behind it. Leg pain can be one of the first and most common symptoms of peripheral vascular disease, a variety of conditions and diseases that affect the arteries of the body, usually in the heart, brain and especially the legs, that can have life-threatening consequences. So leg pain is our signal to check out your overall vascular health.

Carrie Brinson Schulze experienced some unusual leg pain and swelling. Though she was only 33 at the time, and much too young, she thought, to experience such symptoms, she decided to come to us for an evaluation.

“I’m a chef and I stand all day long, sometimes 12 to 15 hours a day depending on what I’m doing,” she said. “About 4 years ago, I noticed that I would get a large amount of swelling in my left leg, and some bulging veins in my left calf, not the small spider-like veins, but big bumps on my leg.”

Her symptoms started appearing in 2012 after the birth of her child. It was then she noticed that after long periods of standing her left leg would swell to almost twice the size of her right leg. At the time, she didn’t have health insurance, but had been previously been tested for muscular issues and blood clots, and the results were negative.

“Living downtown, I was familiar with Baird Vascular Institute because I had seen their billboards,” said Carrie. “When I finally got health insurance, the very first appointment I made was to Baird Vascular.”

She had her first appointment with us in 2015. Since that time, she has had three separate procedures with our team.

“My experience with Baird Vascular Institute has been amazing,” said Carrie. “The first time I called there, the receptionist happened to be on vacation and I actually talked to Cindy, the one who does the ultrasounds. She fielded my call and made me feel very comfortable, and told me over the phone what to expect with my first appointment. She assured me that I was calling the right place.”

“When I came in for my first appointment with Dr. Komorowski,” she continued, “The ladies at the reception desk, Deena and Tiffany, were super fast, efficient, friendly, courteous – they were so great!”

“At the time of this appointment, I was 33 years old and my anxiety level was through the roof,” she admits. “I thought I was too young for anything like this to be happening. So I was really scared at my first appointment.”

Our experienced staff soon eased Carrie’s fears. “I first met nurse Richard – who is amazing,” said Carrie. “He has the best bedside manner of anyone I’ve ever met – nurse or doctor. He just makes you feel so relaxed with his great sense of humor and good stories. He assured me I would be OK.”

Carrie underwent a vascular ultrasound exam with Dr. Komorowski and discovered that her greater saphenous vein was four times its normal size. “That’s when I learned that I would need an ablation and at least 2 procedures to correct the problem,” said Carrie.

Carrie underwent the first procedure soon after her exam, and the only issue she had was some sickness from the anesthesia. “I had to stay in the recovery room for several hours because of the nausea,” Carrie recalled. “The staff took such excellent care of me and even called me that night to check on me. They followed me very closely throughout my recovery.”

When she came in for her follow up appointments, she had recovered well and got the approval to proceed with her second procedure. “This time,” she said, Nurse Richard had done some thinking on my behalf after the first procedure, knowing that I gotten very ill from the anesthesia. This time, they sent me a little patch to put behind my ear to prevent nausea.” She continued, “Richard really went above and beyond to comfort me in that manner – he really takes excellent care of his patients.” She underwent a second procedure to close the lower saphenous and some branch veins.

“I had to go in there a lot because I had 3 procedures, with many pre- and post-op appointments, and 2 week and 6 week follow ups,” she said. “I never felt like ‘just a patient,’ because they really take their time to answer all your questions thoroughly.”

“In May of this year, I had my final yearly examination,” said Carrie. “Right now, everything has been good.”

“I used to stand and within a minute, I would get a bulge in the back of my calf and my ankles and I would have fatigue and pain, and now I don’t have that any more,” Carrie said. “My leg doesn’t swell anymore.”

Carrie notes that she was particularly impressed with the technology at Baird Vascular Institute. “It’s not a scary thing to go into the clinic like it is to check into the hospital,” she said. “You’re kind of awake while they’re doing the procedure, they let you pick out the music you listen to, it was all very relaxed.”

“If I do need to go back in the future, I have no worries,” Carrie continued. “I’ve just been really impressed with that whole clinic.”

Carrie concluded, “I feel like I’m finally on the path to wellness. I’ve been able to exercise again, and standing at my job is no problem. It was a successful treatment for me, definitely.”

If you’re facing leg pain like Carrie, we have the latest in technology, techniques and medications to treat vascular disease, ease your pain and help you get back into good health. Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

Who are the best candidates for image guided tendon treatment?

baird image.guided candidate

Tendons are the tough, flexible bands of tissue that connect your muscles to the bones in your joints, working together to allow all the twisting, gripping, grabbing, bending and lifting in your busy life. But repetitive pounding motions can cause microscopic tears every time you use your tendon. As you keep at it, these micro tears do not have time to heal properly and, unless treated, can get worse, making you suffer for months or years. This condition is often called simply tendinitis (tendon inflammation), but usually is actually tendinosis, tendon tissue that has simply broken down from the overuse and micro tears.

It’s impossible to ignore the pain…and you shouldn’t. Tendon injuries need attention. Sometimes, rest, therapy and a change in activities may ease the pain…but often the damage is permanent, and only gets worse.

We talked to Dr. Jeffrey Elbich, who said, “The majority of the time, tendon pain goes away on its own with time, rest and ice – and reducing the activities that brought the pain in the first place. However, if the pain lasts more than 3 months, medical research suggests that it is unlikely to go away on its own.”

“If you’ve had pain more than 3 months and you’ve tried all the home remedies with no relief, you may be a good candidate for image guided tendon treatment,” continued Dr. Elbich.

If you’re frustrated with chronic tendon pain or have tried multiple treatment options, our image-guided tendon treatment – also called percutaneous tenotomy or fasciotomy – could be the treatment you need for rapid pain relief. Unlike other medical or physical therapies, this procedure safely removes the cause of the pain at the source, and unlike many traditional surgical procedures, it is far less invasive, requires far less recovery time – and has a much higher success rate.

The treatment requires only a local anesthetic and a tiny incision, and is virtually pain-free. We use a targeted application of ultrasound energy to break down the damaged tendon tissue while leaving surrounding healthy tissue untouched.

We then use an FDA-cleared device to remove the damaged tendon tissue. You don’t even need stitches. The entire treatment takes about 20 minutes.

You may be asking if image-guided treatment is right for you.

If you answer yes to these questions, it may be time to discuss our image-guided tendon treatment.

  • Have you given up any activities due to tendon pain?
  • Have you been suffering for three months or longer?
  • Have you taken multiple steps to get rid of your pain without lasting success?
  • Are you tired of masking the pain or enduring it rather than treating it at the source?

Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss whether image-guided treatment is the right option for you.

How does having a port affect my daily life?

Baird Cancer Treatment Port

Many conditions, such as cancer treatment, long-term IV medication or kidney dialysis, require frequent or constant access to your veins. Repeated needle sticks in the same area can be hard on you and hard on your veins. That’s why we specialize in placing vein access ports, so that doctors don’t have to stick you with a needle or restart an IV line every time you need treatment. That makes care easier — and your life easier.

Once you have a port, you may wonder how it will affect your day to day activities. We spoke with Richard Williams, RN, BSN, OCN at Baird Vascular Institute, who said to think of it as you would any medical procedure, “For the first few days, avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activities.” Williams continued, “There are folks who like to hunt, or play tennis, or even have a job like a hairdresser where their arms move up and down frequently, for those folks we tell them they need to give the site a chance to heal, to let the skin start coming together and heal.”

Williams added, “We do ask people about their lifestyle and take that into consideration when placing the port. We can put the port on a different side if needed. All these things are discussed with the patient because we know they’re going to have this port for awhile.”

You can even travel with a port. Williams added, “If you do go through an airport scanner, it shouldn’t go off because there’s not metal in the port, but you can pull out a card that we’ll give you and show the agent what the ‘bump’ is in your scan.”

If you’d like to learn more about port and the procedure, we have a whole series of YouTube videos on the topic.

We’ll work with you and your health care team to choose the best long-term IV access option for your situation. Give us a call at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.