WellStar General Surgery earns accreditation for peripheral venous testing

Published 10:06 pm Friday, November 3, 2017

Dr. Ashley Stewart’s General Surgery office of WellStar Medical Group in LaGrange has earned a three-year accreditation from the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission in vascular testing in the area of Peripheral Venous Testing.

IAC accreditation is a “seal of approval” that patients can rely on as an indicator of consistent quality care and a dedication to continuous improvement.

Peripheral venous testing is important in the early detection of life-threatening heart disorders, stroke and other diseases. Cardiovascular diseases — disorders of the heart and blood vessels — are the number one cause of death in the United States.

Stroke, a disorder of the blood supply to the brain, is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the country.

To achieve the accreditation, Dr. Stewart’s office has undergone an intensive application and review process to determine its compliance with published medical standards, which demonstrates WellStar General Surgery’s commitment to quality patient care in vascular testing.

One of the requirements was that the testing be interpreted by a Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation. Dr. Stewart has earned certification as a Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation® from the Alliance for Physician Certification & Advancement.

RPVI certification was developed in response to physician requests from the vascular-surgery and vascular-medicine communities to ensure the highest standards in vascular ultrasound interpretation.

Other accreditation measures include the training and experience of the technologist performing the procedure and the type of equipment used.  Certified in vascular ultrasound, Kim Speake in Dr. Stewart’s office is a registered vascular specialist and a registered cardiac sonographer.

Symptoms of a person who would benefit from peripheral venous testing are those who experience an aching, heaviness, itching, and or skin color changes and visible varicose veins, usually in the lower leg, Dr. Stewart said. Varicose veins are ones near the surface of the skin — most commonly in the legs or ankles — that have become enlarged and twisted.

These symptoms may indicate the sign of peripheral vascular disease, which is a disease of the blood vessels outside one’s heart.  Common types of PVD are venous insufficiency, carotid artery disease, peripheral arterial disease and deep vein thrombosis. Dr. Stewart and her team specialize in venous insufficiency. If their testing determines a patient’s condition is arterial, they partner with physicians at WellStar Medical Group Cardiology to determine the best course of treatment.

At her medical practice in LaGrange, Dr. Stewart have been testing and treating patients with venous insufficiency symptoms for the past five years, including those who travel from Columbus, Carrollton, Newnan, Atlanta and Alabama. Prior to moving to LaGrange, Dr. Stewart treated patients with vein issues for three years and has helped more than 2,500 patients with vein issues.

For those who have symptoms of venous insufficiency, an initial visit to WellStar General Surgery will include an exam and ultrasound testing.

“Every patient is different, and after the first visit, we’ll develop an individual treatment plan based on what the tests indicate,” Dr. Stewart said. “I think people may be hesitant at times to address varicose veins with a doctor because they think it’s just cosmetic, and they may be worried about the cost.”

“But what we want people to know, for the sake of their own health, is that varicose veins are not a cosmetic issue. It’s a medical condition, and the treatment is covered by Medicare and most insurance plans.”

To treat venous insufficiency, the WellStar General Surgery team offers several procedures, including radiofrequency ablation, laser ablation, ClariVein® sclerotherapy, and sclerotherapy for varicose and spider veins.  The team also will soon add a new procedure that treats varicose veins with intravascular medical glue that physically shuts down and seals a defective vein.

“I’m really proud of the program we have in place here,” Dr. Stewart said. “It’s so gratifying to work with our patients and help them not hurt anymore, and at the same time, improve their overall cardiac health.

“I see men and women who think that having aching legs is just a part of the aging process. But having achy legs is not normal, and they don’t have to just learn to live with it. We’re here to help them.”