Diagnosis of Varicose Veins

By  , Expert Content
Jan 24, 2013

Varicose veins are large, raised, swollen superficial blood vessels which appear tortuous. They are most often seen in the legs and can be seen through the skin as they are superficial (just under the skin).The problem is more common in women than in men and increases in frequency with age (about 30% to 60% of adults develop varicose veins or spider veins with aging). However many people have no signs or symptoms due to varicose veins. If varicose veins do not cause you any discomfort or symptoms treatment is not necessary. Consult a doctor for varicose veins if:


[Read: What are the symptoms of Varicose Veins?]


  • You have pain or discomfort in legs
  • Skin over the varicose veins become sore, red, tender or irritated.
  • Pain in your legs is disturbing your sleep at night


Examination and history: Your doctor can diagnose varicose veins clinically by their appearance. The doctor will examine your legs for signs of swelling and changes in skin. Some questions that the doctor may ask are:


  • When did the symptoms start?
  • Are the symptoms really bothersome and uncomfortable?
  • Do your feet and ankles swell?
  • Does the pain or burning sensation in the legs disturb your sleep?
  • What seems to improve your symptoms or probably make it worse?


The doctor will also ask about factors which increase the risk varicose veins such as:


  • Family history of varicose veins
  • Suspected or confirmed pregnancy
  • History of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the body)
  • History of leg injury (like a history of fracture of a bone in your leg).


Further investigation: Most people with varicose veins do not need specialized tests. If you have complications (such as open sores, bleeding) the doctor may refer you to a vascular specialist (a doctor who specialises in veins) for further investigations and management. The specialist doctor after examination will decide if any further investigations are necessary. Some of the investigations that your doctor may recommend are:


  • Doppler test
  • Colour duplex ultrasound scan.


[Read: What is the treatment for Varicose Veins?]


Doppler test: This is a painless and non-invasive test. It uses high-frequency sound waves which cannot be heard by human ears to obtain information about structures inside the body. The pattern of the echoes produced when the sound waves are reflected from the internal structures creates a picture called a sonogram. The radiologist can differentiate healthy tissues, and abnormal pattern on this picture. A doppler test provides information about the direction of blood flow in your veins, how well the valves in your veins work and can show any blood clots or obstructions in your veins.


Colour duplex ultrasound scan: This test provides colour images of your vein structure, i.e.  the blood flow in the vessel, functioning of valve and presence of any blood clots or obstructions in the veins. It can also help to measure the speed of blood flow in the vessel.


Read more articles on Varicose Veins.


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