Dr. Lori Greenwald is the medical director and founder of Vanishing Veins and Vivesse Med Spa. She is also a Diplomate of the American College of Phlebology and Lymphatic Medicine. She has also been named by Money Magazine as one of The Northeast’s Top Surgeons and named by Consumer Research Council of America as one of America’s Top Surgeons for Vascular Surgery and Phlebology.
Dr. Bruce Stein, M.D, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Not all vein centers are created equal.
In our last blog post, we told you three things to look for when evaluating vein centers. This week, we need to talk about the importance of an ultrasound with your visit. Vein centers live and die on the basis of how good the ultrasound data is. Sure, physical examination is important, but a vein specialist (phlebologist) needs to know the exact anatomy of the veins to decide what to do. Ultrasound is the test that phlebologists use to see the anatomy. Imagine an orthopedist evaluating knee pain without a knee x-ray. It would be the same for a phlebologist to evaluate vein disease without an ultrasound.
Did you know that just because you have varicose veins it doesn’t mean that you need a procedure? Or that all patients who need a procedure don’t need the same procedure. How about that if a patient stands for a long time during an ultrasound, the technician can make the vein disease look worse. These are only a few of the subtle issues that a good ultrasound test of the legs can address. So, how can you be certain that you are getting an adequate evaluation? Look for the following:
Does the ultrasound technician devote herself to vein disease or is she a jack of all trades? After all, you don’t want a carpenter telling you what’s wrong with your car. And you don’t want a technician that spends her time doing abdominal and gynecological ultrasounds looking at your leg veins. That technician doesn’t have the specialized knowledge that is required to know what, if anything, is wrong with your legs.
Is the ultrasound lab accredited? Accreditation of the lab by ICAVL (Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories) is a sign of excellence. Vein centers have to meet rigorous requirements to obtain accreditation. These include the number of studies performed and the number of false positives or false negatives that are found. You can find a list of accredited labs at this link: http://www.intersocietal.org/vascular/main/lab_list.htm.
Is the technician an RVT (registered vascular technologist)? The RVT certification is a true symbol of excellence. To qualify for this prestigious certification a technologist must have performed many vascular examinations. He or she must pass a rigorous written examination, one that has a large failure rate. Only then can an ultrasound tech receive the RVT designation. You can find whether an ultrasound tech has the RVT designation at this link: http://www.ardms.org/registrant_resources/id_cards_status_verification1/status_verification/ardms_directory_of_registrants. Don’t be afraid to ask these tough questions when you are evaluating vein centers. If the office hesitates to answer them you should move on.