Understanding Venous Anatomy & Venous Reflux
Your legs contain a network of veins that carry blood back to the heart. Superficial veins (near the surface of the skin) connect to perforating veins. Perforating veins carry blood from the superficial veins to the deep veins of the thigh and calf. Healthy leg veins contain valves that open and close to assist the return of blood back to the heart. Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) disease, also known as venous reflux, develops when the vein walls and or vein valves that keep blood flowing from the legs back to the heart become weakened or damaged. This can cause blood to pool backwards in your legs, which can lead to a progression of symptoms, including leg discomfort, swelling and varicose veins. Most cases of venous reflux settle within the largest vein of the superficial venous system, the great saphenous vein, however, reflux can affect any veins within all 3 venous systems- superficial, perforating, and deep systems. Using ultrasound imaging we can easily locate the source of any underlying venous reflux and treat accordingly.
Superficial Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Venous reflux disease and varicose veins are a predominantly hereditary condition and lifestyle often determines how this medical condition will progress in an individual. This is a progressive condition that can worsen over time if left untreated and takes on different physical presentations as it graduates to more advanced disease. Bulging, ropey, heavy varicose veins indicate early stage disease whereas changes in skin tone and texture and ulcerations are signs of end-stage disease. Thin, reddish-bluish spider veins are generally more of a cosmetic issue as they do not necessitate treatment, but sometimes can be signs of deeper underlying vein disease.
|Left Untreated, Venous Reflux Can Progress to Other Conditions|
Swelling of the leg is a further sign that damaged or diseased vein valves are not functioning properly. Since the blood cannot be effectively returned to the heart, it pools in the leg resulting in higher than normal pressure (venous hypertension), and causes the leg to swell.
Abnormal blood flow out of the legs through superficial and perforating veins produces higher-than-normal pressure and can lead to damage to the skin. Progression of venous reflux can cause changes in the skin’s color (skin takes on a reddish-brownish tinge) as well as changes in skin texture.
The most severe stage of venous reflux disease results in venous ulcers, most commonly near the ankle. Damaged or diseased perforating veins are the source of venous reflux in nearly two-thirds of venous ulcer patients. These ulcers are raw and painful wounds which may not always be healed using only antibiotics or salves. Attempts to heal the skin without correcting the underlying venous insufficiency can lead to a delayed ulcer healing and recurrence. In the United States it is estimated that up to 1.8 million people are afflicted with venous ulcers which are the most common chronic wounds treated in wound care centers. Our practice is experienced in offering the most progressive approaches in treating patients with advanced symptoms of venous reflux, including venous leg ulcers.
Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment of venous insufficiency can stop the disease from progressing, and can treat these painful and aesthetically undesirable symptoms. In order to ensure an optimal outcome for your vein disease treatment, it is important to select a skillful and experienced cardiovascular experts, such as Rose City Vein Center’s providers, whose private practice is located in Portland, Oregon.
A consultation with our vein specialists will allow us to determine whether you may be at risk for or have venous disease. Please contact us for more information.