What do varicose veins and chronic nosebleeds have in common? More than you might think.
University of Minnesota Health Otolaryngologist Holly Boyer, MD, uses a procedure called sclerotherapy to help chronic nosebleed sufferers who have exhausted other treatment options. Care providers typically use sclerotherapy to treat varicose veins, but it can also reduce chronic nosebleeds and improve quality of life for those dealing with recurring nosebleeds.
Here are five things you should know about the use of sclerotherapy to relieve chronic nosebleeds.
Chronic nosebleeds can happen every day for prolonged periods.
For many people, a nosebleed is little more than an abnormal, minor interruption. However, for people with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), a genetic disorder affecting blood vessels, nosebleeds can happen every day for prolonged periods of time.
People with HHT develop abnormal blood vessels that can easily rupture, which can cause severe nosebleeds with few options for relief. Often, patients suffering from HHT will try drug treatments, chemotherapy or invasive surgery in hopes of stopping the nosebleeds.
Sclerotherapy removes abnormal blood vessels.
During sclerotherapy, a specialist injects a solution into the abnormal blood vessels in the nose that causes them to collapse, forcing blood to reroute through other, healthier vessels. The collapsed vein eventually fades, which is why sclerotherapy a popular procedure among those who want varicose veins to fade or disappear. However, sclerotherapy is now a viable alternative to traditional methods of treating chronic nosebleeds.
Sclerotherapy is a noninvasive, outpatient procedure.
HTT is caused by blood vessels that lose their elasticity and become permanently dilated and malformed, while varicose veins are triggered by blood that pools in the vein, causing it to bulge. The similarity between the two diagnoses gave way to a new use for sclerotherapy—giving HTT suffers a quick, out-patient option with lasting results.
Boyer was the first physician in her field to test schlerotherapy for nosebleeds.
Boyer, who sees patients at the Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic at University of Minnesota Medical Center, was one of the first in her field to try sclerotherapy to treat HHT-related nosebleeds and is among only a small handful of otolaryngologists across the country who practice this technique. Although sclerotherapy is not a cure for chronic nosebleeds, the procedure does allow patients to go a few months without a nosebleed.
The procedure is patient-tested and peer-reviewed.
Patients visit Boyer from across the country for sclerotherapy treatment, but it isn't just patients who are recognizing her work. Boyer recently published a study in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology journal that found bleeding from chronic nosebleeds was more controlled after sclerotherapy than with other treatments.