How we can help with your overall health

Baird overall health

There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the body.
Pointing us toward a lot of answers.

VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute is a multi-disciplinary collaboration of interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons. By working in tandem, we can use the most advanced imaging technology to give us the fastest, clearest picture of a patient’s peripheral circulatory system and vascular problems and diseases, pointing us precisely to the right diagnosis and treatment plan and procedures.

Because of our advanced diagnostic imaging capabilities and convenient location, many physicians refer patients to see us for outpatient evaluations and preparation for various surgical procedures that must be conducted in the hospital, as well as for follow-up examinations. Seeing us as an outpatient saves you many trips to the hospital – and leads to a shorter hospital stay.

Whether you’re referred to us by your doctor or want to talk with us directly about your concerns and needs, our physicians are always available for consultation appointments to listen, learn and talk about your condition and what we can do to help. Open and clear communication with your doctor and you is a crucial aspect of providing proper treatment and care. We work as a team.

Before your appointment, take a few steps in advance to make sure we have the best background information. During your consultation, we’ll talk through your concerns, review your medical history and make an assessment of your current situation. Once we make our diagnosis, we discuss different options to develop a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs. We make sure you understand every aspect of your care.

Our capabilities also allow us to handle the primary treatment of a number of other conditions that once often required prolonged hospitalizations. Today, our image-guided expertise makes possible primarily outpatient care of these conditions. Depending on the condition, certain procedures are handled at the hospital; in other cases, however, these conditions can now be handled completely on an outpatient basis – without a single hospital visit.

Making an appointment at the VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute is quick and easy. We try to accommodate patients and referring physicians as efficiently as possible.

To schedule an appointment call (804) 828-2600 to speak to one of our scheduling associates, or send us an email.

What’s the difference between Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?

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Unsightly leg veins, ranging from the blue splotches of spider veins to the thick, ropey and twisted dark varicose veins that can make standing and walking painful, have much in common. They’re unsightly. They can be painful. If left untreated, they can progress to serious health problems. They’re very common: 20 percent of all adults, and 50 percent of adults over 50, experience varicose veins, predominantly women.

And, most important, varicose veins are treatable–with new, non-invasive procedures that are quick, virtually painless, and require little or no recovery time. Our vascular specialists are experts in evaluating and treating varicose veins, from unsightly spider veins using new, gentle and highly effective treatments to the relief of more serious, painful and even dangerous major varicose veins.

For a quick guide to the difference, watch Dr. Strife’s video.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged veins in the legs near the surface of the skin, ranging from tiny to large. Spider veins are small, surface veins, which, while embarrassing, are relatively minor. Learn more about our advanced treatments for spider veins.

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.

What are spider veins?

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but are milder, involving the smaller veins just below the skin surface. Spider veins are more common among women of any age, and frequently appear during/after pregnancy or when gaining weight. The extra burden weakens the valves in the veins carrying blood back to the heart, so the blood pools and the veins swell. When only small, surface veins are affected, the result is spider veins, which can range from little patches to very large areas. They generally do not bulge or cause pain.

To treat more serious varicose vein problems, we offer several effective and minimally invasive solutions. After diagnosis, we will discuss your options so you can choose the treatment that best suits your needs. Although effective, no varicose vein treatment, whether surgical or minimally – invasive, can prevent new varicose veins from developing in the future. Most health insurance plans cover treatment of significant symptomatic varicose veins, but some consider treatment of spider veins as cosmetic surgery. Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

 

 

Cancer Fighting Winter Vegetables

Baird Winter Vegetables

Eating seasonal produce is easy in the spring and summer, but seems challenging once cold weather sets in. Maintaining a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables may seem difficult this time of year. When you think of winter – fresh produce does not come to mind. It’s important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and there are many that are great sources of antioxidants or other cancer fighting nutrients that help keep cancer cells from growing. The good news is, even in winter, you’re not stuck with only potatoes as fresh options. With some planning and creativity, you can discover many fresh food options with great taste and healthful nutrients for the entire winter season.

Carrots

Carrots are popular root vegetables that are usually harvested in the summer, but reach peak flavor and sweetness in the fall and winter. Carrots are also full of nutrients and an excellent source of beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, and vitamin A helps maintain eye health, and also supports a health immune system. They’re also brightly colored vegetables full of carotenoid antioxidants that help protect against certain diseases and cancers.

Kale

Kale – it’s not just for hipsters, it’s a cruciferous vegetable and is a super nutritious dark, leafy green. It is packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Dark leafy greens are also a great source of carotenoids, and according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, research shows that the carotenoids in kale may help prevent cancer cells in breast, skin, lung, and stomach cancers from growing.

Winter Squash

Butternut and acorn squash and even pumpkins, are full of carotenoids that benefit eye health, and pumpkins is also full of antioxidants. There are tons of ways to incorporate winter squash into your diet – roasted, in salads, or even pumpkin pie.

Brussels Sprouts

Like kale, Brussels sprouts are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and chock full nutrients including vitamins K, A, B and C and manganese and potassium. Plus – they’re high in fiber, too. Fiber slows down the digestive process in the body, resulting in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream and fewer blood sugar spikes.

Apples

An apple a day may indeed keep the doctor away. The nutrients and antioxidants in apples may help prevent the growth of cancer cells, plus – they taste amazing!

Beets

Beets contain antioxidants and other nutrients that help fight cancer and other diseases. They’re full of vitamins A, B, C as well as potassium and folate.

Turnips and Rutabagas

Who remembers their grandmother cooking turnips? Grandma was smart – they are part of the cruciferous vegetable family and are full of cancer-fighting glucosinolates, vitamins B, C and K, folate, potassium, fiber, and calcium. They might look like a little bit like potatoes, but they’re actually related to cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. They are also are a good source of magnesium, phosphorus and manganese.

Swiss Chard

Like its dark, leafy green cousin kale, Swiss chard is low in calories yet full with vitamins and minerals. It also contains antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of many diseases.

Sweet Potatoes

A staple at the holiday table, sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants. Sweet potatoes can be roasted, mashed, added to salads, baked – they are the ultimate versatile super food.

Adding any fresh to your diet will go a long way toward promoting your health. These cold weather vegetables help to round out your diet with nutritious produce all winter long.

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.

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

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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.