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  • • Dilated, tortuous superficial veins in lower extremities, usually bilateral

    • Pigmentation, ulceration, edema suggest concomitant venous stasis disease

    • Classified as primary or secondary

    • Risk factors for varicose veins (VV) include:

    • -Female gender


      -Family history

      -Prolonged standing

      -History of phlebitis


  • • Due to genetic or developmental defects in vein wall causing valvular incompetence

    • Most cases of isolated superficial venous insufficiency are primary


  • • Destruction or dysfunction of valves caused by trauma, deep venous thrombosis (DVT), AV fistula, proximal venous obstruction (pregnancy, pelvic tumor, etc)

    • Disruption of valves results in chronic venous stasis changes

    • Long-standing venous dysfunction leads to chronic skin changes leading to infection


  • • 10-20% of population affected

    • Highest incidence in women 40- to 50-years-old

Symptoms and Signs

  • • Variable presentation

    • Many patients are asymptomatic

    • Localized pain (ache or heaviness with prolonged standing), phlebitis

    • Predominantly located medially (saphenous vein)

    • Small, flat blue-green reticular and spider veins indicates venous dysfunction

    • Secondary VV can cause edema, hyperpigmentation, dermatitis, ulcers

Rule Out

  • • Chronic deep venous insufficiency

    • Klippel-Trénaunay syndrome: Unilateral VV, limb hypertrophy, cutaneous birthmark (port wine stain/venous malformation)

    • -Therapy: Graduated support stockings, avoid saphenous vein stripping as deep veins often absent

  • • Brodie-Trendelenburg test

    • -Identifies saphenofemoral dysfunction: Elevate leg until varicosities collapse, place tourniquet around mid thigh to occlude reflux from saphenofemoral incompetence

      -If veins fill, implies perforator incompetence

      -If veins remain collapsed, implies saphenofemoral dysfunction

    • Duplex US is test of choice

  • • First manage venous insufficiency: Elastic stockings, leg elevation, exercise

    • Avoid prolonged sitting/standing


  • • Operative therapy:

    • 1. Remove entire saphenous vein (for incompetent saphenofemoral junction, varicosities along entire length)

      2. Selective VV removal with stab-avulsion technique

      3. Combined technique

    • Inject small volume of sclerosing solution (0.2% sodium tetradecyl sulfate) into varix, telangiectasia, spider vein; maintain direct pressure for 1 wk with stockings


  • • Persistent or disabling pain

    • Recurrent superficial thrombophlebitis

    • Erosion of overlying skin with bleeding


  • • Hematoma formation

    • Infection

    • Saphenous nerve irritation


  • • 10% recurrence after treatment


Belcaro G et al. Endovascular sclerotherapy, surgery, and surgery plus sclerotherapy in superficial venous incompetence: a randomized, 10 year follow-up trial - final results. Angiology. 2000;51:529.  [PubMed: 10917577]
Gohel MS et al: Randomized clinical trial of compression plus surgery versus compression alone in chronic venous ulceration (ESCHAR study): haemodynamic and anatomical changes. Br J Surg 2005;92:291.  [PubMed: 15584055]
Heit JA et al: Trends in the incidence of venous ...

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