Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are visible through the skin and may appear as blue or purple, twisted, knot-like cords. Varicose veins can occur anywhere in the body, but are more commonly found on the legs. This condition is caused by increased blood pressure inside the superficial leg veins.
At UT Southwestern Medical Center, your physician may request any, or a combination, of diagnostic procedures to determine if you have varicose veins.
Some of those procedures include:
- Duplex ultrasound
- A type of vascular ultrasound procedure used to assess blood flow and the structure of the leg veins. The term "duplex" refers to the fact that two modes of ultrasound are used – Doppler and B-mode. The B-mode transducer (like a microphone) obtains an image of the vessel being studied. The Doppler probe within the transducer evaluates the velocity and direction of blood flow in the vessel.
- Color-flow imaging
- Also called triplex ultrasound, a procedure similar to duplex ultrasound that uses color to highlight the direction of blood flow. Vessels in which blood is flowing are colored red for flow in one direction and blue for flow in the other direction, with a color scale that reflects the speed of the flow.
- Magnetic resonance venography (MRV)
- A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of a large magnet, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. An MRV uses magnetic resonance technology and intravenous (IV) contrast dye to visualize the veins.
Contrast dye causes the blood vessels to appear opaque on the X-ray image, allowing the physician to visualize the blood vessels being evaluated. MRV is useful in some cases because it can help detect causes of leg pain other than vein problems.