TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Not long ago, even a short walk would have been painful for Flint Blankenship.
For seven years, Flint lived with a wound on his foot that wouldn't heal. It brought swelling, aching and pain to activities like his 12 hour shifts as a respiratory therapist.
A series of doctors and procedures didn't help. Then, he was referred to the Vein Clinic at the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center, where an ultrasound spotted the problem.
Dr. Patrick Sheehy says Flint had developed veins in his leg that were incompetent. In veins, he says, the normal flow of blood is to take the blood to the heart so it can be reoxygenated and go back to the body. But in Flint's case, he says, the veins were leaking. As they leak, he says, it causes increased pressure and that pressure causes edema and stress on the tissues and breakdown of tissues. The pressure also robs the cells of oxygen needed to heal wound's like Flint's.
To fix it, Sheehy used a procedure called ablation. Doctors use ultrasound to guide a catheter to the specific veins identified as weak and radiofrequency collapses them. Sheehy says closing the vein takes away the pathway for the increased pressure.
Ablation isn't a cure. Flint might need to repeat the process in the future, but there's no major surgery, he could drive himself home that day and - best of all - after seven years, he's pain free and his wound has finally healed.
Cotton-O'Neil started the Vein Clinic at the Heart Center two years ago. It currently treats medically indicated vein problems, not cosmetic issues.