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 is most commonly due to malfunctioning (incompetent) valves in the veins. It may also occur as the result of a past blood clot in the legs.

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:

Endovenous laser ablation or radiofrequency ablation may be recommended if you have:

Surgery (varicose vein stripping) to treat chronic venous insufficiency has been largely replaced by less invasive procedures.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Chronic venous insufficiency tends to get worse over time. However, it can be managed if treatment is started in the early stages. By taking self-care steps, you may be able to ease the discomfort and prevent 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 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: 5/27/2014
Reviewed By: Deepak Sudheendra, MD, Assistant Professor of Interventional Radiology & Surgery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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