Learn About Varicose Veins and Your Risk of DVT
I read an interesting article about the correlation between varicose veins and the risk that patients will develop a deep vein clot (DVT). We know that varicose veins lead to sluggish flow and an elevated risk of phlebitis. Superficial phlebitis also can coexist with DVT in up to 20% of patients, so the surface clots are not necessarily free of significant risk to patients.
As the article references, there is an almost 6 times greater risk of DVT in patients with varicose veins than in patients without varicose veins. Most patients with varicosities experience symptoms of aching, heaviness, fatigue, itching, swelling or even skin changes, but we have seen some with large veins who deny any symptoms at all. It is important to recognize that even varicose veins that are not very symptomatic still pose a risk of both superficial clot and DVT.
DVT is a specific high risk problem because there is chance that part of the deep clot will break off and travel to the heart or lungs (pulmonary embolism). A significant number of patients' first symptom of pulmonary embolism is sudden death, so it is critical to diagnose and treat DVT before clot migration can occur. Treatment with blood thinners is very effective at minimizing risk, so awareness of the potential for DVT is critical. We can help minimize the risk of DVT by treating varicose veins.
Patients with varicose veins undergo an venous duplex ultrasound to evaluate normal and abnormal flow patterns in both the deep and superficial veins. Once we have a good road map of the incompetent veins, we can address the problem with endovenous ablation, commonly VNUS Closure. This is an office based procedure under local anesthesia with immediate recovery to normal activity.
Patients need to be aware that varicose veins are not a benign cosmetic issue, but instead may pose medical risk and need to be treated to minimize long term potential health consequences. Most insurance companies recognize the medical risk of venous insufficiency and will consider treatment medically necessary within your benefit plan.