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Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

(A list of definitions of the words and procedures that you will find when you read this website. The terms are highlighted in bold type when they first appear in the main text.)

1064 NdYag Laser Treatment: The laser used for spider veins. This procedure, slower than sclerotherapy, is mostly used for the tiniest of veins, veins that don’t respond to sclerotherapy, in patients who are highly allergic to any medications, or on those who are needle-phobic.

Ambulatory Phlebectomy: A surgical procedure that teases the bulging varicosities out of the leg by hooking them with a crochet-like instrument. This is done with a local anesthetic, and the tiny incisions or poke marks in the skin do not require stitches.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI): The abnormal backward flow of blood through the veins caused by leaky valves. This vein disease results in health-threatening problems when it occurs in the deep venous system, and varicose and spider veins in the superficial venous system.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI): The abnormal backward flow of blood through the veins caused by leaky valves. This vein disease results in health-threatening problems when it occurs in the deep venous system, and varicose and spider veins in the superficial venous system.

Corona Phlebectatica: The presence of abnormally visible blood vessels at the ankle with four components: “venous cups,” blue and red telangiectasias (spider veins), and capillary “stasis spots.” The presence of this is strongly related to the clinical severity of chronic venous disorders and the presence of incompetent perforator veins.

Deep Venous System: This large vein system in the center of your leg carries 90% of the blood back to your lungs and heart. The system is not touched in treatments of spider and varicose veins.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): A serious life-threatening clot that occurs in the deep venous system. It can move to the heart and block arteries to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.

Endothermal Heat-Induced Thrombosis (EHIT): A clot that appears at the intersection of the treated vein and the deep vein. This risk is between 1/100 and 1/1,000. If an ultrasound reveals such a clot you will usually be given an oral blood thinner, which you will take for a week or two.

Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA): A procedure in which the vein specialist uses a laser fiber to apply heat to the incompetent vein, usually either the great or small saphenous vein, that seals shut the vein, causing it to be absorbed by the body. This directs the blood to the normal veins.

Feeder Veins: Also known as reticular veins, these blue veins lie just under the skin and feed blood at high pressure into clusters of spider veins. When these veins become incompetent due to faulty valves, they significantly increase the presence of spider veins.

Compression Hose: Medically developed stockings that compress the veins in your legs. The highest pressure is at the ankle, and it decreases gradually as the hose moves up your leg. This makes it easier for your body to pump blood upward to your heart. The hose, which should be replaced after six months, is available in a variety of colors, fabrics, styles, and lengths.

Greater Saphenous Vein (GSV): A superficial leg vein, the longest vein in your body, which runs along the inside of your leg from your foot to your upper thigh. This vein carries blood back to your lungs and heart. Seventy percent of major varicose vein problems originate in the GSV, which is not, in fact, needed for proper blood circulation. When this vein’s valves develop leaks, become incompetent, and cause reflux, the result may be painful varicose veins.

Incompetent Vein, Insufficient Vein: A vein that has developed leaky valves, causing blood to reflux and pool. This is a major cause of varicose veins and spider veins.

Laser Treatment: Intense electromagnetic radiation (light energy) which, when applied directly onto the spider vein, heats up and then seals the vein shut.

Matting: A small vein that resembles a blush or a bruise. This sometimes occurs when the sclerotherapy agent (sclerosant) is not properly injected into the feeder vein. Matting can be taken care of by locating and treating the feeder vein.
Musculovenous Pump: The calf-muscle pump, an ingenious feature that utilizes the tone and contractions in the leg’s calf muscle to send deoxygenated blood up the legs to the lungs and heart.

Neuropathy: A numbness, tingling, and burning sensation, especially in the feet, which worsens at bedtime. This pain is frequently associated with diabetes and cancer chemotherapy. Interestingly, if you have both vein disease and peripheral neuropathy, treating the abnormal veins will usually greatly improve your neuropathy pain. Nerve testing of the legs helps with the diagnosis.

Perforator Vein: A bridge vein that connects the superficial veins to the deep veins. When the valves of perforator veins leak, the vein becomes incompetent, causing swollen and painful surface varicose and spider veins. Perforator veins are usually treated if they cause leg ulcers.

Phlebitis or Superficial Venous Thrombophlebitis: Inflammation, visible redness, and swelling of the walls of a superficial vein, caused by a blood clot. Frequently the result of an injury or a prolonged car ride, this does not usually require anticoagulants.

Phlebology: The practice of vein medicine and surgery.

Reflux: The abnormal, sluggish, backward flow of deoxygenated blood down the legs, away from the lungs and heart, that causes pooling, bulging, and abnormal pressure. This is caused by chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), or vein disease, wherein the valves in the veins weaken and cannot close.

Reticular Vein: Flat blue-colored leg veins, also known as feeder veins, which lie just under the surface of the skin. If their valves become incompetent, these veins feed blood at excessive pressure back to tiny spider veins, causing pain and discomfort.

Sclerotherapy: A state-of-the-art treatment for spider and reticular veins. An injection into the abnormal vein irritates it, causing it to collapse, seal shut, convert to scar tissue, disintegrate and be absorbed by the body, thereby no longer able to create other abnormal veins.

Sclerosant: A chemical foam that is injected into the abnormal vein during sclerotherapy to irritate its lining, causing it to harden and disappear.

Skin Ulcer: In rare cases after sclerotherapy a blister may form, open, and become ulcerated. Healing occurs slowly over a few months, and some scarring may be visible.
Small Saphenous Vein (SSV): A superficial leg vein that runs along the back of the calf. The SSV is responsible for 10% of superficial vein problems.

Spider Vein (Telangiectasia): Tiny reddish or purplish veins, closely related to varicose veins, which are normally visible on the surface of the skin. Symptoms of spider vein problems are pain, burning, heaviness, itching, stinging, swelling, restlessness, and fatigue in the legs. For the most part, these veins are unrelated to reflux in the greater saphenous vein.

Superficial Venous System: The veins that are in the outer layer of the legs that carry 10% of the deoxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs. When these veins become incompetent they can cause varicose and spider veins, which must then be ablated by a vein specialist.
Telangiectasia: A spider vein.

Transient Hyperpigmentation: Discoloration, which occurs when the blood is trapped inside the vein after treatment has closed it down. This appears after sclerotherapy; it will fade on its own after four to 12 months, or it can be treated in an office visit.
Varicose Veins, or Varicosities: Enlarged, swollen, and often painful leg veins that can be visible just under the skin when they become dilated as a result of vein disease.

Vein Disease: Chronic Vein Insufficiency, caused by leaky valves in the superficial or deep venous system. It is successfully treated with ablation, phlebectomy, and sclerotherapy procedures.

Venous Stasis Ulcer: A breakdown in the skin as a result of vein problems—usually painful and surrounded by a brown stain on the skin. These are chronic in nature and very difficult to treat unless you treat the underlying vein problem.

Final Thoughts