Skip to the Skis: Pharmacist Cured of Painful Vein Condition

Media Contact Joe Poelker
Release Date: 07/22/2015 By St. Anthony's Medical Center

Rick Tod

Rick Tod underwent venous radiofrequency ablation.

Rick Tod always has enjoyed physical activity, from running to waterskiing and soccer. But his 32-year vocation as a pharmacist took a toll on his legs.

“Standing on my feet had led to varicose veins, and I had pain in both my legs,” recalls Rick, Manager of St. Anthony’s Medical Plaza Retail Pharmacy. “The pain at times kept me from doing many of the activities I enjoy.”

Rick was among more than 30 million Americans who suffer from venous insufficiency or venous reflux disease. Today, Rick, 55, has returned to his normal lifestyle with the help of a venous radiofrequency ablation procedure performed last year by David Dobmeyer, M.D., FACC, President of St. Anthony’s Heart Specialty Associates.

“Dr. Dobmeyer was awesome,” Rick said. “My legs feel fine now; I am not limited on what I can do anymore, and my legs don’t feel fatigued going up and down steps.”

St. Anthony’s Heart Specialty Associates Vein Services is the only vein center in the St. Louis metro area to be accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) in venous treatment and management. This means the center is nationally recognized for providing high-quality vein services. The center performs 15 to 20 venous ablations per week, and 800 or more each year, among other procedures.

“Rick’s prognosis vis a vis return of venous insufficiency is excellent,” Dr. Dobmeyer said. “The procedure is effectively curative, with little chance of recurrence.”

Venous reflux disease is a disorder of the great saphenous veins in the legs. It’s caused when small valves within the veins, designed to prevent the backflow of blood into the legs while the person is in a standing position, fail to function properly, Dr. Dobmeyer said.

The outpatient procedure is performed under local anesthetic. A radiofrequency catheter is introduced into the saphenous vein, causing diseased portions of the vein to close and be absorbed by the body. The blood automatically is rerouted to healthier veins, where it is pumped more efficiently.

Rick learned about the procedure while attending a community function with a member of the Heart Specialty Associates staff. Following a free screening and analysis that included an ultrasound, he wore compression stockings for a time, but the simpler alternative failed to help the condition. He then underwent the ablation procedure: first in one leg, then in the other a month later. In each case, he was back at work the next day.

“Overall, the whole procedure was pleasant,” he said. “The Vein Services staff is outstanding, very accommodating. And the facilities are beautiful.”

Rick lives in Oakville with his wife, Joan. They have two sons, Matt and Kevin, and a granddaughter, Caroline. He has served at St. Anthony’s for 15 years.

“I’ve talked to several of my patients who are thinking of having this procedure done,” he said. “I give them my perspective of what they can expect.”

Risk factors for venous insufficiency

  • Family history: if Mom had it, both male and female children have an 80 percent chance of getting it
  • Standing professions, such as pharmacists, nurses, surgeons, teachers, floor salespeople, factory workers, etc.
  • Pregnancy: having three children equates to about a 60 percent chance of getting venous reflux
  • Obesity

Do you have venous insufficiency?

St. Anthony’s Heart Specialty Associates offers a free screening for venous insufficiency.

Call 314-ANTHONY for an appointment.