A fast-acting glue is being hailed as a breakthrough treatment for varicose veins.
VenaSeal is injected into diseased veins so blood is re-routed into healthier veins. Quicker than existing treatments, it requires less local anaesthetic, and patients can immediately resume normal activities, specialists claim.
Clinical trials of the medical adhesive, developed by US-based company Sapheon, have so far yielded a 100% success rate.
Now a Europe-wide study on 120 patients is being led by specialists at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College, London.
Professor Alun Davies, who has treated 12 patients with his colleague Ian Franklin at London's Charing Cross hospital, said: "It does seem to work. So far it has been very straightforward and all the patients have been fine. One had a complication of inflammation on the skin but that soon settled down.
"However, these are very early results, and how it will compare with other procedures longer-term is difficult to tell."
Millions of Britons suffer from the unsightly, blueish veins that bulge just below the skin's surface, typically in the lower leg. Varicose veins are caused by faulty valves that stop the body from pumping blood up the legs against gravity.
The VenaSeal Sapheon Closure System involves injecting tiny amounts of a specially formulated non-toxic medical adhesive directly into diseased veins using a very fine catheter guided by ultrasound. It seals shut the inner walls of the vein so that blood is re-routed through healthier veins.
Dr Rodney Raabe, Sapheon's chief medical officer and the consultant radiologist who invented VenaSeal, added: "Patients are not required to wear compression stockings afterwards because compression is not part of the action used to close the vein.
"Unlike laser, radiofrequency and steam treatments, our procedure is also entirely non-energy based so there is no need for expensive equipment to generate heat and no need for local anaesthetic to be administered the full-length of the vein to reduce any pain."