varicose vein

Twisted vein distended with blood.

Varix also covers arteries and lymphatic vessels (see lymphatic system). Varicose veins occur mostly in the legs, when malfunctioning valves let blood pool in veins near the skin. Causes include hereditary valve and vein wall weakness and internal or external pressure on veins. Varices are common in pregnancy, suggesting that hormone abnormalities play a role. Symptoms include a heavy feeling, with leg cramps and swelling after standing a long time. Complications include skin ulcers and thrombosis. Treatment involves strong support hose, injection therapy, or surgery. Varices in the esophagus, which often occur in liver disease, can ulcerate and bleed. See also hemorrhoid.

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▪ medical disorder
also called  varix  

       vein that is twisted and distended with blood. The term varix is also used for similar abnormalities in arteries and in lymphatic vessels. Varicose veins occur in a number of areas, including the legs, the esophagus, the spermatic veins (which return blood from the testes; varicose veins in this area cause a mass in the scrotum that is called a varicocele), around the rectum or anus (hemorrhoids (hemorrhoid)), the veins of the broad ligaments (i.e., folds of peritoneal membrane) that extend from the uterus to the walls of the pelvis, and the veins of the urinary bladder.

      Varicose veins in the legs, by far the most common location, result from malfunctioning of the valves in the veins. These valves normally prevent blood from reversing its flow after the movement of the leg muscles has forced the blood upward and from superficial veins to the deep veins. When the valves do not function properly, the blood collects in the superficial veins, distending and twisting them. Weakness of the valves and of the walls of the veins may be inherited. Hormones also play a role in the development of varicose veins, which explains the increase in the number of varices that occurs during pregnancy and menopause.

      Symptoms include a sensation of heaviness and a tendency for the leg muscles to cramp while one is standing. The feet and legs swell at the end of the day. The skin may be inflamed and moist, a condition called weeping eczema. Ulcers may appear around the ankles, and clots may develop in the diseased blood vessels ( thrombophlebitis).

      Treatment consists of the use of elastic bandages or strong support hose; sclerotherapy, which involves the injection of a solution that closes the vein, causing blood to be rerouted to healthier veins; and surgical treatment, which may consist of removing the affected veins (e.g., vein stripping) or closing the veins endoscopically or with the use of lasers.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • varicose vein — n an abnormal swelling and tortuosity esp. of a superficial vein of the legs usu. used in pl. * * * a dilated tortuous vein, usually in the subcutaneous tissues of the leg, often associated with incompetency of the venous valves. Varicose veins …   Medical dictionary

  • varicose vein — [[t]væ̱rɪkoʊs ve͟ɪn[/t]] varicose veins N COUNT: usu pl Varicose veins are swollen and painful veins in a person s legs, which sometimes require a medical operation …   English dictionary

  • varicose vein — A condition in which a vein, most often in the legs, becomes permanently enlarged, twisted, and painful. This may be caused by valves in the vein that don’t work properly or by weakness in the vein walls …   English dictionary of cancer terms

  • varicose vein — noun a vein that is permanently dilated; most common in the legs • Hypernyms: ↑vein, ↑vena, ↑venous blood vessel, ↑varicosity …   Useful english dictionary

  • varicose vein — noun a) An abnormally swollen or dilated vein b) The medical condition of having such veins, especially in the legs …   Wiktionary

  • Varicose — Var i*cose (?; 277), a. [L. varicosus, from varix, icis, a dilated vein; cf. varus bent, stretched, crooked.] [1913 Webster] 1. Irregularly swollen or enlarged; affected with, or containing, varices, or varicosities; of or pertaining to varices,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Varicose veins — ICD9|671 ICDO = OMIM = 192200 MedlinePlus = 001109 eMedicineSubj = med eMedicineTopic = 2788 MeshID = D014648 Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and twisted. Carl Arnold Ruge is credited with having first defined varicose veins as …   Wikipedia

  • vein — [[t]ve͟ɪn[/t]] veins 1) N COUNT: usu pl Your veins are the thin tubes in your body through which your blood flows towards your heart. → See also varicose vein Many veins are found just under the skin. 2) N COUNT: usu sing, with supp, usu adj N… …   English dictionary

  • vein — veinal, adj. veinless, adj. veinlike, adj. /vayn/, n. 1. one of the system of branching vessels or tubes conveying blood from various parts of the body to the heart. 2. (loosely) any blood vessel. 3. one of the riblike thickenings that form the… …   Universalium

  • vein — noun /veɪn/ a) A blood vessel that transports blood from the capillaries back to the heart ...and on a different vein, can we discuss... b) (used in plural veins) The entrails of a shrimp See Also: in the same vein, veined …   Wiktionary

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