Medial calf perforators in venous disease: the significance of outward flow

J Vasc Surg. 1992 Jul;16(1):40-6.


The role of medial calf perforators in the initiation or promotion of venous disease is incompletely understood. The purpose of this study was to define the direction of blood flow in the perforating vein of the calf in normal limbs and in those limbs of patients with venous disease under defined laboratory conditions. Both lower limbs of 57 patients, (32 women and 25 men, median age, 56 years; range, 40 to 62 years) were examined by duplex ultrasonography. In 10 patients no clinical or duplex evidence existed of venous disease. In 60 legs we found evidence of superficial venous insufficiency, complicated by lipodermatosclerosis in 29. In 15 limbs we found deep venous insufficiency. Finally, in 19 limbs no evidence existed of venous disease, but venous reflux was present in the contralateral limb. The direction of blood flow in the medial calf perforators was assessed during compression of the foot and calf, by a cuff that inflated to 60 mm Hg. Blood flow was also assessed during deflation of the cuff. We found that the direction of blood flow within medial calf perforators can be both inward or outward, even in limbs without evidence of venous disease. Outward flow could be demonstrated in 21% of perforators in normal limbs. Flow on release of distal compression occurred in 33% to 44% of perforators in limbs with evidence of venous disease but in none of the perforators in limbs without evidence of venous disease. We found that flow, during the relaxation phase, within medial calf perforators was associated with venous disease elsewhere in the limb.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Ultrasonography
  • Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Venous Insufficiency / complications
  • Venous Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging
  • Venous Insufficiency / physiopathology*