Chronic venous insufficiency of the lower limbs (CVI) is characterized by symptoms or signs produced by venous hypertension as a result of structural or functional abnormalities of veins.

Symptoms may include aching, heaviness, leg-tiredness, cramps, itching, sensations of burning, swelling, the restless leg syndrome, dilatation or prominence of superficial veins, and skin changes.

Signs may include telangiectasia, reticular or varicose veins, edema, and skin changes such as pigmentation, lipodermatosclerosis, eczema, and ulceration. 

The most frequent causes of CVI are primary abnormalities of the venous wall and the valves and secondary changes due to previous venous thrombosis that can lead to reflux, obstruction, or both. Congenital malformations are rare causes of CVI. Because the history and clinical examination will not always indicate the nature and extent of the underlying abnormality (anatomic extent, pathology, and cause), a number of diagnostic investigations have been developed that can elucidate whether there is calf muscle pump dysfunction and can determine the anatomic extent and functional severity of obstruction or reflux. The difficulty in deciding which investigations to use and how to interpret the results has stimulated the development of this consensus document. The aim of this document was to provide an account of these tests, with an outline of their usefulness and limitations and indications of which patients should be subjected to the tests and when and of what clinical decisions can be made.

Investigation of Chronic Venous Insufficiency
A Consensus Statement
A. N. Nicolaides, MS, FRCS, FRCSE
Clinical Investigation and Reports
Circulation. 2000;102:e126-e163
doi: 10.1161/01.CIR.102.20.e126
(Circulation. 2000;102:e126.)
© 2000 American Heart Association, Inc.