Chronic Venous Insufficiency
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is when the veins and valves in the legs do not work as they should. This can cause a backup of blood in the veins, especially in the legs.
In some people, the cause is not known. In others, damage to the valves causes problems in the veins. Common causes of this are:
This problem is more common in people who have DVT. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. This may be enough to suspect the diagnosis.
Images of the veins may be taken. This can be done with an ultrasound. This can confirm the diagnosis.
The goal of care is to maintain blood flow and prevent it from pooling in the veins. Choices are:
People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery. The type of surgery will depend on the cause.
To lower the risk of this problem:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Society for Vascular Surgery
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery
American College of Phlebology (ACP) practice guideline on treatment of superficial venous disease of lower leg can be found at ACP 2016 Feb 3.
Chronic venous insufficiency. Society for Vascular Surgery website. Available at: https://vascular.org/patient-resources/vascular-conditions/chronic-venous-insufficiency. Accessed November 24, 2020.
Chronic venous insufficiency and postphlebitic syndrome. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/peripheral-venous-disorders/chronic-venous-insufficiency-and-postphlebitic-syndrome. Accessed November 24, 2020.
Venous insufficiency. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/venous-insufficiency. Updated August 18, 2016. Accessed July 11, 2018.
3/30/2015 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/condition/venous-insufficiency. Dos Santos Crisóstomo RS, Costo DS, et al. Influence of manual lymphatic drainage on health-related quality of life and symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015;96(2):283-291.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 4/20/2021