Varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency

Vasa. 2009 Nov;38(4):293-301. doi: 10.1024/0301-1526.38.4.293.


Varicose veins are a very frequent disorder with prevalence in our adult population between 14% for large varices and 59% for small teleangiectasias. Subjective symptoms may be very non-specific. The term "chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)" defines functional abnormalities of the venous system producing advanced symptoms like oedema, skin changes or leg ulcers. Both entities, varicose veins and CVI, may be summarized under the term "chronic venous disorders" which includes the full spectrum of morphological and functional abnormalities of the venous system. A classification system to describe chronic venous disorders regarding clinical appearance, etiology, anatomical distribution and pathophysiology has been proposed under the acronym of CEAP. The revised version of the CEAP classification contains also definitions of clinical signs and suggests three levels of apparative investigations adjusted to the clinical stage. Concerning the etiology of venous disorders controversial theories exist leading to different therapeutic concepts. As a matter of fact there is a vicious circle between structural changes in valves and venous wall and hemodynamic forces leading to reflux and venous hypertension. Different methods for treating varicose veins are available producing satisfactory early outcome in most cases, but followed by a high recurrence rate after years. Chronic venous insufficiency requires "chronic management". Compression therapy by bandages for initial treatment of severe stages and maintenance therapy using medical compression stockings is essential. In addition correction of venous refluxes by surgery or endovenous procedures including echo-guided foam sclerotherapy should be considered in every single case.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Stockings, Compression
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicose Veins* / diagnosis
  • Varicose Veins* / etiology
  • Varicose Veins* / physiopathology
  • Varicose Veins* / therapy
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures
  • Venous Insufficiency* / diagnosis
  • Venous Insufficiency* / etiology
  • Venous Insufficiency* / physiopathology
  • Venous Insufficiency* / therapy