Venous Insufficiency

Definition

Venous insufficiency is a condition in which the veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart.

Alternative Names

Chronic venous insufficiency; Chronic venous stasis; Chronic venous disease

Causes

Normally, valves in your deeper leg veins keep blood moving forward toward the heart. With chronic venous insufficiency, vein walls are weakened and valves are damaged. This causes the veins to stay filled with blood, especially when you are standing.

Chronic venous insufficiency is a long-term condition. It occurs because a vein is partly blocked, or blood is leaking around the valves of the veins.

Risk factors for venous insufficiency include:

Symptoms

Exams and Tests

Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history. Diagnosis is often made based on the appearance of leg veins when you are standing or sitting with your legs dangling.

A duplex ultrasound exam of your leg may be ordered to:

Treatment

Your doctor may suggest that you take the following self-care steps to help manage venous insufficiency.

If your condition is severe, your doctor may recommend the following treatments:

Surgery (varicose vein stripping) or other treatments for varicose veins may be recommended if you have:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Chronic venous insufficiency tends to get worse over time. By taking self-care steps, you may be able to ease discomfort and slow the condition from getting worse. It is likely that you will need medical procedures to treat the condition.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

References

Freischlag JA, Heller JA. Venous disease. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2012: chap 65.

Word R. Medical and surgical therapy for advanced chronic venous insufficiency. Surg Clin N Am. 2010;90:1195–1214.


Review Date: 5/21/2013
Reviewed By: Diane M. Horowitz, MD, North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, Great Neck, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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