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VDF Infomation Library

Disease Information : Varicose Veins : Glossary

Varicose Veins : Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I-K | L | M-O | P-Q | R | S | T | U | V-Z


Ambulatory venous pressure: the blood pressure inside veins while walking, normally very low at 0-20mmHg. due to calf muscle pump action moving blood up the leg when walking. The pressure rises when valves in the veins are damaged and allow blood to flow backward toward the foot – a condition known as venous insufficiency. 

Anticoagulation: medication that “thins” the blood to prevent blood clot formation. The medication works by reducing the amount of natural clotting factors made by the liver. Heparin is given intravenously or by subcutaneous injection; warfarin is given by mouth.

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Cellulitis: infection of the skin, usually caused by normal skin bacteria that get under the top layer of skin. Signs of infection include red, warm, tender skin, swelling, fever, and/or chills.

Chronic venous insufficiency: pooling of blood in veins at the lower part of the leg due to damaged valves allowing backward flow. Over time, swelling and thinning of skin with discoloration and possible ulcer formation occur due to constant high pressure against the skin.

Collateral veins: small veins that grow around an area of blockage or blood clot. 

Compression support stocking: elastic or latex stockings that support the tissue of the leg by putting counter-pressure against the skin, reducing the effects of venous blood pooling. Stockings are usually knee or thigh length and available in varying pressures and colors.


Deep vein thrombosis: blood clot in a deep vein of an extremity.

Dermatitis (stasis dermatitis): dry, flaky, itchy skin related to changes caused by venous insufficiency; severe cases may weep clear fluid and resemble infection.

Doppler or duplex ultrasound: a non-invasive test using a Doppler probe and gel; sound waves are reflected off moving structures (blood vessels) to give a picture and the sound of blood flow to identify problems or clots.


Embolus/embolism: a blood clot or clot that moved from one location to another, such as from the leg to the lung.


Femoral vein: the large, deep vein extending from the groin to the knee.

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Grafts: A surgical technique using man-made material or vein to re-route blood flow.


Hyperpigmentation: excess skin pigment or color caused by high venous pressure forcing blood cells to leak from small veins under the skin.

I, J, K

Iliac vein: large deep vein branching into each leg from the umbilicus (belly button) to the groin.

INR (International Normalized Ratio): blood test used to monitor the effects of warfarin therapy; ideal range while on warfarin is 2.0 - 3.0.  Some patients may require higher or lower ranges depending on other medical conditions.

Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome: condition characterized by multiple vein malformations in the superficial venous system; abnormally small or absent deep veins, and port-wine stains.

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Laser therapy: use of a high intensity light beam to eliminate small varicose veins just under the skin surface.

Lipodermatosclerosis: thickening/hardening of normal fatty tissue under the skin due to prolonged effects of high venous pressure.

M, N, O


P, Q

Perforator veins: small veins that connect the deep veins to the superficial veins, allowing blood to drain from the skin into the deep veins and then pumped toward the heart.

Phlebitis: inflammation of a vein or segment of vein often associated with a blood clot.

Phlebectomy: surgical removal of a blood clot from a vein.

Popliteal vein: large deep vein behind the knee.

Post-phlebitic syndrome: collection of symptoms that occurs after a blood clot has damaged the veins in the leg: chronic swelling, skin discoloration, pain/achiness, and possible ulcer.

Pulmonary embolism: blood clot in the lung.


Reflux: backward flow of blood in a vein; also known as regurgitation.


Saphenous (great saphenous) vein: large superficial vein in the leg, from the groin to the ankle.

Saphenofemoral junction: joining of the large deep vein of the thigh (femoral) with the saphenous vein at the groin.

Sclerotherapy: injecting small varicose veins with concentrated salt solution (hypertonic saline; performed in the office.).

Spider veins: a form of varicose veins consisting of small bluish-purple veins often shaped like spider webs clustered on the legs.

Stab phlebectomy: surgical removal of segments of varicose veins through multiple small incisions on the leg; performed in the operating room.

Stripping of varicose veins: surgical removal of varicose veins.

Superficial: under the skin.

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Telangiectasia: a type of varicose veins also known as spider veins; small bluish-purple veins, usually found in clusters on the leg.

Thrombosis: blood clot.

Thrombophlebitis: blood clot in a vein that causes local inflammation, pain, and swelling.

Tibial veins: deep veins in the calf.

Trendelenburg test: a method of testing for backward flow of blood in veins.


Ulcer: an open wound or sore. A venous ulcer is usually located around the ankle or lower leg and is caused by persistent high pressure in the veins that leads to thinning and destruction of normal skin and subcutaneous tissue.

Unna boot: a roll bandage with zinc oxide in the gauze, which is used to apply counter-pressure to a venous ulcer.

V, W, X, Y, Z

Valve: small, delicate flaps of tissue spaced along a vein that open and close to allow blood to flow up the leg and return to the heart.

Valvular insufficiency: damaged valves that no longer close properly, thereby allowing blood to flow backward down the leg and cause pooling at the ankle and lower leg. (See also “reflux”).

Valvuloplasty: surgical repair of damaged valves in veins.

Varicose vein: enlarged (dilated), elongated, and twisted veins, usually found in the thighs and legs, ranging in size from small spider veins to very large bulging rope-like veins.

Venography: x-ray study of veins using “dye” or contrast solution to outline veins and identify problems.

Venous hypertension: high pressure in veins due to damage to venous system (see also valvular insufficiency) leading to symptoms of chronic venous disease.

VNUS: procedure to close varicose veins with the use of a radiofrequency catheter inserted into the vein. The heat produced by the radiofrequency energy causes the vein to collapse and seal shut. This is also a same day operating room procedure, with expected return to normal activities in 1-2 days.

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