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Leg Pain? The Problem Could be your Pelvis - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In 2012 doctors in Houston told Debra Hebert there was nothing more they could do for her. Plagued by circulation problems, she was having a hard time getting around and making it through a 12-hour shift as a pipeline documenter. The fatigue was bad enough to put her into a state of depression.

In a similar situation, Karen Barousse, a retired clerical worker, was plagued by swelling in her left leg that was so bad, it looked like it belonged on another person’s body. Twice-a-day fluid pills did nothing to alleviate the problem. "Deep down, I knew that something wasn’t right with my body,” says Barousse. "I would just sit around with my leg elevated.”

An innovative outpatient procedure preformed at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital by Dr. Carl Fastabend, cardiovascular specialist and director of the Vein Center of Southwest Louisiana, has improved the health and restored the quality of life for both of these ladies for the better.

"Chronic vein disease is a reality for many,” says Dr. Carl Fastabend. "This disease prevents blood from leaving the legs and flowing back into the heart. Without treatment, blood can pool in the legs, causing chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).”

Although seldom life threatening, the condition is a significant cause of discomfort and disability. According to Dr. Fastabend, CVI can lead to swelling, pain and ulcers in the legs. "This was exactly the case for Ms. Hebert and Ms. Barousse. Pregnancy, being overweight, a lack of exercise or sitting or standing without moving for long periods of time can all be contributing factors. Elderly patients who are sedentary and face relative immobility are also at risk. Also, there is a significant genetic component which appears later in life. In most cases there is a problem with the closely associated arteries in the pelvis compressing the veins which drain the legs, and this is corrected by placing stents. ”

Previously this type of venous disease was difficult to diagnose and treat, but thanks to technological advances, diagnosis is now facilitated by intravascular ultrasound which allows the vein specialist to visualize the pelvic veins directly, and place stents into the iliac veins to correct the problem. This is a major advance which is allowing specialists like Dr. Fastabend to correct these troublesome veins on an outpatient basis. Typically the procedure is done on an outpatient basis, with discharge on the same day.

"CVI has several different causes, and pelvic vein compression preventing adequate flow of blood from the legs back to the rest of the body is frequent and very treatable. Patients experience pain and a feeling of heaviness in the legs,” adds Dr. Fastabend. "IVUS allows us to go in and open these veins back up in a minimally invasive manner. The patient experiences little discomfort and sees an almost immediate relief of symptoms.”

Since having her IVUS Procedure in December 2012 and double stents implanted in January 2013 to correct May Turner Syndrome, Hebert’s life has taken a definite turn for the better.

"I work out seven days a week now for an hour or more at a time,” comments Hebert. "I feel great! I have no restrictions and a whole new lease on life. I have a quality of life that I had no idea was even possible.”

Barousse expresses a similar sentiment. "I go and I go and I can walk better. I don’t worry about swelling anymore and I don’t think anything about wearing my cropped pants or getting out and enjoying life.”

For more information, contact the Vein Center of Southwest Louisiana at (337) 312-VEIN or visit


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