Does severe venous insufficiency have a different etiology in the morbidly obese? Is it venous?

J Vasc Surg. 2003 Jan;37(1):79-85. doi: 10.1067/mva.2003.61.

Abstract

Objective: Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is the most common cause of leg ulcers. Patients with morbid obesity are remarkable for particularly recalcitrant ulcers. Because obesity is not specifically incorporated in CEAP or other venous scoring systems, we sought to characterize this group of patients more completely.

Methods: Patients with severe CVI (CEAP clinical class, 4, 5, and 6), and class III obesity (body mass index [BMI], >40) were reviewed. Findings from clinical and duplex ultrasound scan (DU) examinations were compared with the CEAP classification, its adjunctive venous clinical severity score, and sensory thresholds.

Results: A review of clinic records identified 20 ambulatory patients with a mean age of 62 years, a mean BMI of 52, and a mean weight of 164 kg (361 lbs); all but one had bilateral symptoms. No evidence of venous insufficiency was detected with DU in 24 of the 39 limbs. Although some valvular incompetence was detected with DU in 15 of 39 limbs, these abnormalities were widely dispersed between 28 sites; eight limbs had findings at only one site. Ulceration (mean area, 29 cm(2)) was present in 25 limbs and necessitated 7 months for healing; 13 (52%) recurred at least once during a mean observation period of 36 months. The mean sensory threshold of 5.21 exceeded current risk thresholds used in diabetic screening programs. The distribution of CEAP clinical class was C4 (n = 14), C5 (n = 14), and C6 (n = 11). Increasing CEAP class correlated with an increased mean BMI of 47, 52, and 56, respectively (P <.01). CEAP also correlated with a rising mean venous clinical severity score of 10, 11, and 15, respectively (P <.05).

Conclusion: Patients with class III obesity had severe limb symptoms, typical of CVI, but approximately two thirds of the limbs had no anatomic evidence of venous disease. The association of increasing limb symptoms with increasing obesity suggested that the obesity itself contributes to the morbidity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / blood supply
  • Leg Ulcer / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications*
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Duplex
  • Venous Insufficiency / etiology*