Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is when the veins continually have difficulty sending blood from the limbs back to the heart.
Veins are the vessels that carry oxygen-poor blood back to the heart – whereas arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Problems with the arteries can lead to peripheral artery disease, heart attack, and stroke. Problems with the veins cause swelling and skin changes, typically in the legs.
When blood flow to the heart is restricted due to a blood clot or other malfunction, blood backs up and pools in the legs, resulting in venous insufficiency. The most common cause of CVI is a disorder of the valves in veins that fail to prevent blood from flowing backward (as in the legs when standing, due to gravity).
Long-term venous insufficiency is more common in women and older adults. Blood clots and varicose veins are risk factors for CVI, as is obesity, pregnancy, and sitting or standing for long periods of time. Leg ulcers are the most severe complication of CVI.
Diagnosing Venous Insufficiency
A duplex ultrasound is typically used to examine blood circulation in the legs and identify chronic venous insufficiency. Also sometimes called a vascular ultrasound, it combines two types of noninvasive ultrasound to examine blood vessels:
- Standard ultrasound technology uses an external device (transducer) that is moved gently over a patient’s skin to bounce sound waves off internal organs such as veins to create images of those internal organs and structures.
- Doppler ultrasound technology also uses sound waves to track moving objects, such as blood flow, to measure its speed and identify any abnormalities.
For more information, please contact the vascular and cardiology healthcare professionals at Premier Vein & Vascular by calling 1-888-VEINCARE or you can request an appointment online. We look forward to serving you at our offices in Tampa and Largo, Florida.