UAB among first in Southeast to perform VenoValve® procedure

With this procedure, surgeons hope to find a treatment option for those with severe chronic venous insufficiency.

Chronic venous insufficiencystream Marc Passman 7Marc Passman, M.D. affects about one in 20 adults in the United States. CVI is a condition that occurs when the veins in the legs fail and do not allow blood to flow back up into the heart normally, causing blood to pool in the legs. CVI can lead to increased pressure in the veins of the lower legs, which can cause pain and swelling, and in more severe cases, cause the skin to break down, resulting in painful open sores.

Marc Passman, M.D., the director of the UAB Vein Program and Clinic and surgeon at the UAB Cardiovascular Institute, led the surgical team that performed a procedure using the VenoValve, a device designed to restore the proper directional flow of blood within the veins. With this device, surgeons hope to decrease elevated venous pressure within the deep veins of the leg and allow the blood to return from the legs to the heart. UAB is one of several centers participating in a national clinical trial investigating the efficacy of the device as part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process.  

For blood to return from the legs to the heart against gravity, the calf muscles act as a pump to push the blood through the venous valves and back up to the heart. When the valves malfunction, blood flows down and pools in the bottom of the legs. The VenoValve is a one-way valve placed in the mid-thigh femoral vein. When the leg muscles relax, the device eliminates reflux of flow down the leg and facilitates blood flow return to the heart, thereby reducing the abnormally elevated pressure in the veins of the leg.

“Our hope is that, through this clinical trial, we can continue to improve treatment options for patients with CVI,” Passman said. “There are many patients who have severe CVI, and this new valve can really improve their leg condition and impact their quality of life. Unfortunately, there are currently no options commercially available to reconstruct venous valves. The goal of this trial is to find a treatment option for those with severe CVI who have previously not been able to be treated with a venous valve option.” 

Although CVI usually is not life-threatening, it is a progressive disease that can cause significant clinical signs and symptoms in the legs or ankles, tight feeling in the calves, or itchy and painful legs. People with CVI may also experience discolored skin that is a reddish-brown color, swelling in the lower legs and ankles, leg cramps, flaky or itchy skin, full or heavy feeling in the legs, open venous sores, and varicose veins.

Treatment can help patients manage their symptoms and give them a better quality of life. Currently, treatment for CVI involves lifestyle changes, such as leg elevation, exercise and weight management, and compression therapy. Physicians may also prescribe medications or use non-surgical treatments to treat CVI. For patients with severe CVI, doctors may explore surgical options.  

For those who are experiencing symptoms of CVI, the UAB Vein Program and Clinic offers comprehensive evaluation, specialized treatment and compassionate care for each patient. Visit or call 205-996-8346 to book an appointment.