Vascular examination: varicose veins
Varicose veins are a common problem that also comes up frequently in clinical examination stations. Lisa Jeavons and Suneeta Kochhar take you through the history, examination, and treatment
- By: Suneeta Kochhar, Peter Boyle, Lisa Jeavons
Varicose veins are dilated, tortuous, and prominent veins of the superficial venous system seen in the distribution of the long and short saphenous veins. Varicose veins are common: estimates imply that 25% of women and 15% of men will get them.1 The most common cause is incompetent valves in the veins and increasing age, pregnancy, obesity, and family history all increase the risk.
The venous drainage of the legs consists of a superficial and a deep system of veins. The superficial venous system drains the skin and subcutaneous tissue; its vessels form the long and short saphenous veins (figure). The long saphenous vein travels from the foot, in front of the inner ankle (medial malleolus), along the inner (medial) part of the leg, and joins the femoral vein at the saphenofemoral junction. The short saphenous vein travels from the foot, behind the outer ankle (lateral malleolus), along the midline of