The venous system is, in many respects, more complex than the arterial system and a thorough understanding of venous anatomy, pathophysiology, and available diagnostic tests is required in the management of acute and chronic venous disorders. The venous system develops through several stages, which may be associated with a number of development anomalies. A thorough knowledge of lower extremity venous anatomy, anatomic variants, and the recently updated nomenclature is required of all venous practitioners. Effective venous return from the lower extremities requires the interaction of the heart, a pressure gradient, the peripheral muscle pumps of the leg, and competent venous valves. In the absence of pathology, this system functions to reduce venous pressure from approximately 100 mm Hg to a mean of 22 mm Hg within a few steps. The severe manifestations of chronic venous insufficiency result from ambulatory venous hypertension, or a failure to reduce venous pressure with exercise. Although the precise mechanism remains unclear, venous hypertension is thought to induce the associated skin changes through a number of inflammatory mechanisms. Several diagnostic tests are available for the evaluation of acute and chronic venous disease. Although venous duplex ultrasonography has become the standard for detection of acute deep venous thrombosis, adjuvant modalities such as contrast, computed tomographic, and magnetic resonance venography have an increasing role. Duplex ultrasonography is also the most useful test for detecting and localizing chronic venous obstruction and valvular incompetence. However, it provides relatively little quantitative hemodynamic information and is often combined with measurements of hemodynamic severity determined by a number of plethysmographic methods. Finally, critical assessment of venous treatment modalities requires an understanding of the objective clinical outcome and quality of life instruments available.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine