On Thursday and Friday this year, the AngioDynamics EVLT International varicose veins course was held at The Whiteley Clinic in Guildford.
Doctors who treat varicose veins flew into London for this two-day course. They came from as far away as Latvia, Lithuania and Egypt as well as many from mainland European countries.
Prof Mark Whiteley and Judy Holdstock performed the first endovenous treatment for varicose veins in the UK, in March 1999. At that stage very few people in the medical profession believed that varicose veins could be treated endovenously with heat.
By the end of 1999, Mark and Judy had performed over 100 cases. They set up a national training course for VNUS closure (radiofrequency ablation) in summer 1999 for English doctors. They used to run this course every 6 to 8 weeks.
Ever since that time, Mark and his team at The Whiteley Clinic have continued teaching their varicose veins research to interested doctors both nationally and internationally. They run a variety of courses. These range from large scientific courses where delegates get given lectures on the latest research and techniques for varicose vein treatments and then watch live surgery or live scanning by a video link to the operating theatre, to individually tailored courses where delegates shadow members of the team and, once competent, perform treatments under supervision on patients who consent to being part of the course.
In 2012, The Whiteley Clinic in Guildford became the international training Academy for AngioDynamics EVLT Venacure.
This week, on the 19th and 20th of May, we ran the 18th course for Angiodynamics.
Before the course, all of the delegates were given the introductory book “Understanding venous reflux – the cause of varicose veins and venous leg ulcers“.
On the first day, delegates were taken through the simple physiology of veins and how they become varicose veins. They were then rapidly taken through the reasons why endovenous surgery has taken over from stripping surgery. They were then introduced to treatment of perforators and pelvic veins which have become essential in the successful treatment of varicose veins, if low recurrence rates are to be achieved.
Judy Holdstock then gave an expert lecture venous duplex ultrasound scanning. She showed that in the hands of an expert, it can show far more than most doctors see when they do their own scans. She showed that by having expert vascular technologists performing all scans, difficult diagnoses could be made easily. This means that patients get the appropriate procedures tailored to thier needs using The Whiteley Protocol. She explained how failing to do this, quick and cheap treatments result in a higher rate of recurrence due to missed problems.
Finally Prof Mark Whiteley took the delegates through some of the latest research from The Whiteley Clinic. Much of this is not published yet and so is not known generally yet. It shows how laser, sclerotherapy, coil embolisation and other treatments actually work on the varicose veins. He explained that by understanding this process, doctors would be able to use equipment in different ways, ensuring better results than would normally be expected if standard treatment regimes were followed.
On the evening of 19 May, a course dinner was held which enabled doctors to ask Prof Whiteley questions informally, allowing them to ask things they may be embarrassed to question during the course itself.
On Friday 20th of May, the delegates then observed three live cases performed at The Whiteley Clinic in Guildford. Because of the high level of research and teaching performed at The Whiteley Clinic, there is a dedicated lecture room with a video link to the operating theatre.
During the procedures, Prof Whiteley was able to answer questions live from the operating theatre and Mr Barrie Price explained the theory any procedures that were not clear.
Finally between cases, there were question and answer sessions where all delegates were able to ask any questions about management, diagnosis or treatment of varicose veins and varicose veins patients.