Evaluating Chronic Venous Insufficiency
- Posted on: Mar 15 2018
We routinely thank the heart for the work it does pumping blood into organs and tissues. What we don’t often consider is how blood vessels help the heart in its vital functions. After the onset of the circulatory cycle, the phase in which blood travels from the heart to the lower extremities, there is a return that needs to occur. Blood needs to travel back to the heart for oxygenation before the cycle begins again. In the blood vessels of the legs, tiny valves open and close in rapid succession to help push blood flowing back toward the heart.
When these valves sustain damage or become dysfunctional, their intermittent opening and closing slows down and allows blood to accumulate in the feet and lower legs. This is referred to as venous insufficiency and is a precursor to the development of varicose veins and another vein disease. When blood backs up in the lower extremities, it is common for a person to experience skin dryness, itching, swelling, and a dull ache, especially if they stand or sit for any length of time. At some point, veins bulge and become visible. It is estimated that as much as 40% of American adults are affected by some degree of chronic venous insufficiency.
Assessing Vein Health
There are several risk factors for chronic venous insufficiency, which are observed by physicians as part of the diagnostic process. If symptoms coincide with a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, smoking, or clear indication of varicose veins, a physician may order further testing to observe the inner workings of the veins in the legs.
In addition to a thorough consultation and physical examination, vascular ultrasound is a common modality used to observe veins. This type of ultrasound obtains detailed images of the inside of veins and other vessels in real time, and also in motion. Video observation of veins evaluates the movement of valves and may also measure the flow of blood through different parts of the vein.
Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition that requires ongoing management and observation that measures the efficacy of treatment protocols. Ultrasound is a valuable method of screening because there is no radiation-related risk to this test.
GO Imaging proudly serves patients from the Humble and Houston areas. Contact an office near you for more information on our ultrasound services.
Posted in: Ultrasound