Chronic Venous Insufficiency: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Venous Insufficiency on a woman's legChronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a vascular condition that occurs in 6% of women and 2% of men worldwide. It is characterized by dysfunctional valves in the legs that cause pooling of blood in the lower extremities.

Over time, this phenomenon leads to decreased oxygen perfusion into the tissues of your leg, which may eventually cause tissue injury and death. Due to the increasing prevalence of this disorder, it is essential to know the causes, diagnosis, and management of venous insufficiency.

How Do I Get CVI?

It develops gradually as you age. Since the valves in your lower extremities are of structures that withstand high pressure and flow, these are susceptible to degeneration after several decades.

Other factors such as obesity, pregnancy, and prolonged standing also increase the pressure gradient that your venous blood has to overcome. Positive family history of varicose veins also increases your risk of developing this condition due to the weak structure of your veins.

How is CVI Detected?

A complete history and physical examination by a vascular doctor is crucial for the effective diagnosis of venous insufficiency. This condition involves progressive leg pain and swelling that worsen with extended periods of standing.

You may also notice tissue changes such as discoloration and flaking of the legs and ankles.

What Should I Do if I Suspect That I Have Venous Insufficiency?

If the index of suspicion is high, you should undergo an ultrasound to visualize the blood flow in the legs. Based on the severity of vascular pathology, several treatment options are available.

The first line of treatment during early stages of the disease includes lifestyle modification through regular exercise and periodic leg elevation. As the valve becomes irreversibly weaker, the use of a venous stent is the preferred management option to maintain circulation.

Venous insufficiency increases your risk of developing symptoms such as persistent pain, intractable swelling, irreversible skin changes, and ulcerations. Thus, it is crucial to detect early signs and symptoms of this vascular condition so that you can visit a vascular specialist right away.