Whole-leg duplex mapping for varicose veins: observations on patterns of reflux in recurrent and primary legs, with clinical correlation

J K F Wong, J L Duncan, D M Nichols
European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery 2003, 25 (3): 267-75

BACKGROUND: the variability of venous reflux patterns complicate the management of venous disease. Our study investigates specific variations in venous anatomy and patterns of reflux in varying clinical situations.

METHODS: prospective analysis of 464 legs in 355 patients was performed by complete duplex venous mapping of both primary and recurrent varicose veins. Hand Held Doppler (HHD) and Duplex Ultrasonography (Duplex US) observations in the popliteal fossa were compared in a subgroup of 89 patients with primary varicose veins. Distribution of venous system disease was correlated with clinical severity in a subgroup of 117 affected legs which was representative of the overall study group.

RESULTS: sapheno-femoral junction (SFJ) incompetence predominated in both primary and recurrent varicose veins. Only 21% of primary legs and 25% of recurrent legs had sapheno-popliteal junction (SPJ) incompetence. SPJ incompetence was present in only 42% of cases where reflux in the popliteal region on HHD had been demonstrated. A proportion of both primary and recurrent varicose veins had evidence of deep venous incompetence (DVI). Sixty-four percent of primary leg ulcer patients had superficial incompetence alone. In patients with recurrent varicosities and ulceration, 57% had SPJ incompetence, 64% multiple sites and 50% DVI.

CONCLUSION: the complex variations of varicose vein anatomy and functional pathology in the lower limb are currently best assessed by complete whole-leg venous duplex mapping.

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