What Is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

chronic-venous-insufficiencyChronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), sometimes referred to as Chronic Venous Disease (CVD), occurs when leg veins don’t allow blood to travel properly back to the heart. Problems in some of these veins can cause blood to flow in both directions, not just upward toward the heart. When these veins don’t work properly, they can cause blood to pool in the leg veins. If left untreated, Chronic Venous Insufficiency can cause pain, swelling, and may result in leg ulcers.

Causes of CVI

Chronic Venous Insufficiency isn’t life threatening, however, it can be a disabling condition. There are certain conditions that make some people more susceptible to this insufficiency than others. People who are overweight, pregnant, or have a family history of vein disorders are more prone to CVI. Other causes of Chronic Venous Insufficiency include:

  • Previous blood clots
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Sitting or standing for long periods of time
  • Deep vein thrombosis

Symptoms of CVI

It’s important to know the symptoms of CVI so you can treat it as soon as possible. If you’ve experienced any of the following, we recommend visiting a vein specialist.

  • Swelling in ankles and calves
  • Tightness in calves
  • Pain while walking
  • Brown-colored skin near the ankles
  • Varicose veins
  • Leg ulcers that don’t respond well to treatment

There are two diagnostic procedures for Chronic Venous Insufficiency:

1. Duplex Ultrasound: This is a vascular ultrasound done to determine the condition of leg veins and assess blood flow. The term “duplex” refers to the two different modes of ultrasounds that are used – Doppler and B-mode.
2. Venogram: This procedure uses x-rays and intravenous contrast dye to visualize the veins.The dye allows the veins to appear opaque on the x-ray so the doctor can better evaluate the problem veins.

Treatments for CVI

The type of treatment you receive for your chronic venous insufficiency will be determined by your doctor. Factors that determine what type of treatment you will receive depend on your age and overall health, extent of the condition, your symptoms, and your tolerance for specific medications and procedures.

CVI treatments include:

  • Improving blood flow. Methods to improve the blood flow in leg veins include elevating your legs to reduce pressure on the leg veins, compression stockings usually help blood flow as well.
  • Medication. Diuretics are usually used to draw excess fluid from the body through the kidneys. Medications that improve the flow of blood from vessels may also be used.
  • Sclerotherapy. This involves injecting a chemical into the diseased veins. This chemical causes the veins to scar so they no longer carry blood. Other healthy veins will then carry blood to the heart.
  • Surgery. Surgery is for very serious cases and is only recommended to about 10 percent of people with chronic venous insufficiency.

At the Austin Vein Institute, we provide the highest quality care for a number of venous conditions, including Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Problem veins can negatively impact your life in a number of ways. If you’re ready to get rid of your problem veins once and for all, contact the Austin Vein Institute today to schedule your initial consultation.

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