What is Venous Insufficiency?

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) results from failure of the valves in deep or superficial veins. Venous anatomy in the legs is uniquely designed to allow blood to flow against the force of gravity. One-way valves in the veins close at the end of each pulsitile burst of blood upward toward the heart, ensuring unidirectional blood flow. A damaged valve with bi-directional blood flow can allow blood to flow back from the deep venous system into the superficial venous system.

Over time, the weight of this column of blood causes fluid and protein to exude into surrounding tissues where it leaks and pools in the legs and feet. Chronic venous insufficiency can cause discoloration of the skin of the ankles and may lead to tissue breakdown, and ulceration. Venous ulcers are most commonly found around the ankle. They have irregular borders and are more likely to have copious drainage than other ulcer types.

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