What is the etiology of superficial venous insufficiency?

Updated: Oct 22, 2018
  • Author: Robert Weiss, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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In superficial venous insufficiency, the deep veins are normal, but venous blood escapes from a normal deep system and flows backwards through dilated superficial veins in which the valves have failed. More than 80% of varicose veins seen on the leg are caused by venous insufficiency or a leaky valve in the GSV, which terminates near the inguinal ligament as it joins the common femoral vein.

The initial valve failure may occur at any level between the groin and the ankle, but the saphenofemoral junction is the high point of reflux in most patients with severe superficial venous insufficiency. Valve failure can be spontaneous in patients with congenitally weak valves. Congenitally normal valves can fail as a consequence of direct trauma, thrombosis, hormonal changes, or chronic environmental insult (eg, prolonged standing).

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