The veins in the legs are regular tubes whose function is to carry blood from the feet to the heart against the influence of gravity. Along with muscular contraction, veins contain one way valves to aid this process. Varicose veins develop when these valves cease working correctly creating a back-flow of high pressure blood down the leg causing expansion of the vein walls. This is often experienced as visible and palpable bulging veins.
Possible complications and symptoms
The presence of varicose veins and the associated impaired blood circulation may cause the following:
- Blood clots
- Bursting and bleeding
Spider veins and reticular veins
Spider veins are fine, threadlike veins occurring in the skin. Sometimes they are associated with dilated veins lying just under the skin, known as reticular veins. Both spider and reticular veins do not have any adverse effects on the health of the leg, although they can cause burning and stinging sensations.
Investigation and diagnosis
The gold standard for varicose vein detection is Duplex ultrasound which enables the detection of faulty valves and veins throughout the leg. This information is then used to create an appropriate treatment plan. Ultrasound scans are non-invasive, performed on site and usually bulk-billed. These scans are performed by specially trained vascular sonographers from Melbourne Vascular Diagnostics.