Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
When leg veins fail to carry blood to the heart, blood flows backwards to the feet and pool in the legs, increasing pressure in the veins. The veins compensate by expanding (swelling) causing the valves in the veins not to open and close properly. When blood is no longer pumped effectively from the lower leg, the peripheral veins will not be emptied even when walking. They remain filled with blood and the pressure in the vein does not decrease. This condition is known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
Patients might experience leg achiness, heaviness or tiredness. There might be varicose veins, but this is not always the case. As the condition progresses, the color of the skin around the ankles changes from pink to red to potentially brown and black. The skin becomes thickened as it scars, and it can break down, leading to small tears and eventually sores or ulcers. There are times that this problem can lead to skin infections (cellulitis). CVI represents the advanced progression of vein disease and can vary in its presentation.
Chronic venous disease is diagnosed through a thorough examination and the use of special ultrasound testing can help us determine the underlying reason for the failure of the vein valves throughout the lower extremity.
Risk Factors for Venous Diseases
- professions requiring prolonged standing or sitting
- gender (women develop edema more often)
- obesity (CVI may develop even without reflux or obstruction in the veins)
- age (older people are more susceptible to develop venous disease)
- history of a DVT (blood clot)
Initial treatment may include the use of compression bandages, specific dressings to protect the legs, medications and periodic leg elevation. The decision as to how we treat you depends on the severity of your condition.
Once we believe that we have achieved an element of control of your swelling, we will pursue minimally invasive options to help restore venous function and minimize long-term complications associated with this condition. We might use radiofrequency ablation, foam sclerotherapy and iliac vein stenting, to achieve the results that will help you the most. Please understand that these are complex problems, and your management should be handled by someone who is properly trained in all aspects of this condition.
Other vein centers in Metro Detroit do not have the experience or expertise to deal with these advanced and complex problems and can institute treatments that might not be effective and might actually harm you. There is no reason to take chances with this problem. Our experience in the management of this condition, is unmatched.