Diagnosing Varicose Veins
When diagnosing varicose veins or spider veins it is important to know the root cause of the problem. Essentially vein disease affects the ability of the body to circulate blood effectively. It happens when valves in the veins become weakened or fail. The venous system then has trouble preventing blood from pooling or flowing backwards as the body tries to pump blood against gravity and back to the heart. When this happens, it is considered vein disease or venous insufficiency. In order to diagnose varicose veins you must first determine if there is venous insufficiency.
Ultrasound for diagnosing varicose veins
Venous ultrasound is the main tool vascular surgeons use to diagnose varicose veins. Ultrasound works by measuring sound waves in tissue and generating diagnostic images. From these images, we can see which veins are working well and which ones have faulty valves which cause blood to leak back into the legs. The failure of the valves causes increased pressure and can then cause varicose veins.
The most common vein to cause varicose veins is called the greater saphenous vein. It runs under the skin from the ankle to the groin on the inner part of the leg and thigh. An ultrasound helps your vein doctor diagnose varicose veins by checking the greater saphenous vein as well as the other veins in the leg for venous insufficiency.
Ultrasound for diagnosing deep vein thrombosis
Ultrasound can also be an invaluable tool as it can tell us if there are blood clots in the veins. These can be potentially dangerous because they can lead to a serious condition called deep vein thrombosis.
Varicose vein diagnosis leads to treatment
If you have varicose veins or signs of venous insufficiency, you should have an ultrasound as part of your evaluation. The ultrasound is painless and takes 30-45 minutes. At the San Francisco Vein Center, our experienced vascular ultrasound technologists make it possible to diagnose the underlying problems causing our patients’ varicose veins. Once we see which veins aren’t working correctly, we are able to formulate a treatment strategy customized to each patient.