The circulation of blood in our body is a complicated process. In particular, the valves in our veins play a crucial role as they allow blood to flow back to the heart from other parts of the body. Sometimes, however, there are problems with these valves, including a condition called chronic venous insufficiency, or CVI, which affects one-third of adults in the United States.
With CVI, the valves in the leg veins are damaged and do not properly return blood to the heart. Instead, the veins fill with blood. This is especially true when a person is standing, which increases pressure in the veins, causing swelling in the legs and ankles; it can also lead to varicose veins, leg ulcers and constant pain in the legs.
Although there are surgical treatments for CVI that target the superficial (or near the surface of the skin) veins, there has been no treatment for deep valve disease, which affects the large deep veins at inside our body. Now researchers at the Yale School of Medicine are trying to change that.
Yale is participating in a clinical trial known as SAVVE, which stands for Surgical Antireflux Venous Valve Endoprosthesis. During this procedure, surgeons will implant a bioprosthesis – a small metal frame that contains a porcine (i.e., from a pig) heart valve – into the femoral vein of the thigh. The implant prevents blood from flowing back to the legs when it should only be moving in one direction, towards the heart.
“Our hope is that we can actually get the patient almost to recovery, so that they no longer have to deal with the high venous pressure that you see in chronic venous insufficiency,” says Raul J. Guzman, MD, Vascular and Vascular Care Specialist at Yale Medicine. endovascular surgeon.
In this video, Yale Medicine specialists discuss the SAVVE procedure and how it can positively impact the care of patients with chronic venous insufficiency.
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