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Vein Services

Ronda Seeley and her pets

"After eight years of living with this, I'm just ecstatic!" says Ronda Seeley.

After Her Vein Procedure, Ronda Seeley Can Again Walk the Walk

St. Anthony's Heart Specialty Associates offers a free screening, including a quick-look ultrasound, for venous insufficiency. Call today for an appointment at 314-ANTHONY or 314-880-6622.

Ronda Seeley, of South County, didn't know she was one of more than 30 million Americans who suffer from venous reflux disease. For eight years she suffered from an ulcer on her ankle that wouldn't go away, and was referred unsuccessfully to wound treatment specialists, dermatologists and others.

Ronda, a manager at a landscape materials company, enjoys helping others and is an active member of the Benevolence Team at Rooftop Community Church in Affton, working with the Churches on the Street STL Homeless Ministry in north St. Louis and the Affton Christian Food Pantry, among others. The ulcerous leg cramped her style: it would improve a little, then worsen. She tired of the

pain and limping.

“I had many a doc look at it – it was horrible,” recalled Ronda, 51. “When it flared up this last time, my doctor started to send me back to a wound specialist. I told her, ‘This time, we're going to get this treated and fixed.' She sent me to Dr. Dobmeyer.”

It's not uncommon for caregivers not to recognize the condition, said Cardiologist David Dobmeyer, M.D., FACC. Dr. Dobmeyer is President of St. Anthony's Heart Specialty Associates, which sees an average of 50 patients with vein problems each week.

"Ronda had a classic venous ulcer, and these wounds typically take forever to heal,” Dr. Dobmeyer said. “The condition goes by three names: venous insufficiency, venous reflux disease or varicose veins. Varicose veins is only one manifestation of the problem, which can have no symptoms, or manifest with pain, swelling and discoloration. When the condition worsens, leg and foot ulcers can result.”

The problem lies in the great saphenous vein, which in its healthy state contains valves pointing back at the heart to return blood to the heart, Dr. Dobmeyer said. In Ronda's case, the valves ceased to function properly, and the continuous pooling of blood caused and exacerbated the foot ulcer.

In April, Ronda underwent a venous radiofrequency ablation, an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthetic, and went home the same day. Dr. Dobmeyer introduced a heated catheter into the great 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. The Heart Specialty Associates performs five to 10 venous radiofrequency ablation procedures weekly.

“This should be a permanent fix for her,” Dr. Dobmeyer said. “The ulcer should not come back.”

Within a week of surgery, the wound had healed appreciably, Ronda said.

“After eight years of living with this, I'm just ecstatic!” Ronda said.

Vein Treatment Services

“Our cardiovascular specialists here at the Heart Specialty Associates can diagnose and treat all aspects of both venous and arterial disorders,” noted Connie Kray, R.N., Manager of Vein Services.

“We also do therapy for cosmetic spider veins.” St. Anthony's Heart Specialty Associates specializes in a variety of treatments: endovenous thermal ablation, chemical ablation, phlebectomy (removal of the vein), sclerotherapy and light source/laser treatment. It also relies on conservative treatment options, such as compression stockings; in many cases, a combination of treatment methods work best.

Heart Specialty Associates works closely with St. Anthony's Wound Treatment Center, which sees many patients with non-healing wounds in their lower legs and feet. “I refer to us as the plumbing subcontractors for the Wound Center,” said cardiologist David Dobmeyer, M.D.

Diagnostic testing for venous insufficiency is performed at the Heart Specialty Associates' Vascular Lab, which is accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories.

Varicose Veins/Venous Insufficiency/Reflux:

  • It's found in one in six Americans
  • It's hereditary: If Mom had it, both male and female children have an 80 percent chance of getting it
  • It's often found in occupations involving standing: teachers, nurses, factory workers, store clerks
  • It may become prominent during pregnancy and worsen with successive pregnancies