Chronic Vein (Venous) Disease

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)

When leg veins fail to carry blood to the heart, blood flows backwards to the feet and pool in the legs, increasing pressure in the veins. The veins compensate by expanding (swelling) causing the valves in the veins not to open and close properly. When blood is no longer pumped effectively from the lower leg, the peripheral veins will not be emptied even when walking. They remain filled with blood and the pressure in the vein does not decrease. This condition is known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)

Leg heaviness or aching, along with spider or varicose veins are mild symptoms.  In severe cases, swelling occurs, skin changes color often with a skin rash and reoccurring skin infections (dermatitis) and ulcers (open wounds) may develop.

Chronic venous disease is diagnosed through an examination and ultrasound testing that reveals how the vein valves are functioning in the superficial veins or the deep veins.

Risk Factors for Venous Diseases

  • professions requiring prolonged standing or sitting
  • gender (women develop edema more often)
  • obesity (CVI may develop even without reflux or obstruction in the veins)
  • age (older people are more susceptible to develop venous disease)

Treatment Options

Treatments may include leg elevation, exercises and compression stockings.  For more severe symptoms, compression bandages, dressings and medications may improve the symptoms.

Ablation treatments are known as sclerotherapy, radiofrequency or laser ablation, vein ligation or stripping. Vein ablation treatments are designed to destroy superficial veins that have abnormal valve function. This treatment may be offered to patients who have tried the non-procedure options.

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