Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) occurs when the leg veins do not allow blood to travel back to the heart. (Arteries carry blood away from the heart, while veins carry blood to the heart). Problems with valves in the veins can cause the blood to flow both directions, not just toward the heart. These valves that are not working properly can cause blood in the legs to pool.

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If chronic venous insufficiency is left untreated, pain, swelling, and leg ulcers may result. It is a progressive medical condition that worsens over time and varicose veins can progress to CVI if left untreated.



Chronic venous insufficiency is more common among those who are obese, pregnant, or who have a family history of the problem. Individuals who have had trauma to the leg through injury, surgery, or previous blood clots are also more likely to develop the condition.  Other causes of chronic venous insufficiency can include:

  • High blood pressure in the leg veins over a long time, due to sitting or standing for prolonged periods
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the calf or thigh)
  • Phlebitis (swelling and inflammation of a superficial vein, usually in the legs)



Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency may include:

  •  Swelling in legs and/or ankles
  •  Tight feeling calves or itchy painful legs
  •  Pain during walking that stops with rest
  •  Brown-colored skin, particularly near the ankles
  •  Varicose veins
  •  Leg ulcers that are sometimes very resistant to treatment



The symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency may resemble other conditions.  Since there are numerous diagnostic procedures and treatments available, it is important to choose a doctor with the right medical background and access to the latest technology including Doppler Duplex Ultrasound Exam. Athens Vein & Thoracic Specialists services include the following:



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