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What’s So Great About the Great Saphenous Vein?

saphenouse veins

The great saphenous vein (GSV), previously referred to as the long saphenous vein, is a superficial leg vein that runs from the top of the thigh near the groin, down the inner thigh all the way to the inner ankle. The top blue arrow in this diagram points to the location of the great saphenous vein.

The Great Saphenous vein is responsible for varicose veins about 80% of the time. When varicose veins appear in the inner thigh or calf areas, the GSV is often the culprit (see picture). The other superficial vein largely responsible for varicose veins in the small saphenous vein. The small saphenous vein (SSV) runs along the back of the calf. The SSV was previously referred to as the short saphenous vein. Varicose veins on the backside of the leg are often caused by leaky valves within the small saphenous vein.  varicose-DSCF5885_fotorvaricose-21after_fotor

 

What If I need my Great Saphenous Vein for Bypass Someday?

GSV1

The Great Saphenous Vein is a vein of the superficial venous system that drains blood from the skin and tissues into the deep system. It is most commonly the root of the problem in people with varicose veins. When the great saphenous vein is dysfunctional, removing it is the first step of vein treatment.

A great saphenous vein that needs treatment is not functioning properly. When a vein is diseased, the walls become weak and the vessel can dilate or grow triple its’ normal size. This is not the type of vessel that would be ideal to place in a diseased heart. While the saphenous vein is a common vein that is harvested for bypass grafts, there are other options such as the internal thoracic artery in the chest and the radial artery which is in the arm. With these options, an artery replaces an artery and the removal of the valves inside the veins is not necessary. It is important for the entire circulatory system to be functioning properly, together.

What is a Venous Insufficiency / Duplex Ultrasound Test?

 

The Duplex Ultrasound examination, also called a venous insufficiency study allows us to visualize the blood vessels that are not visible to the naked eye, even blood vessels that are deep within the muscles.  The ultrasound examination is used to both identify the veins that have faulty valves and to map the anatomy of the veins, creating a ‘road map.’  This is necessary to make an accurate assessment of the cause and extent of the varicose veins, as well as to formulate the best treatment plan.  This should be done for any individual being evaluated for varicose veins, leg swelling, patients who have failed prior treatment, patients who are symptomatic and in some patients with certain anatomic patterns of spider veins.

Duplex ultrasound uses sound waves to get images of your blood vessels.  It also helps determine how fast blood moves through the vessels.

vascular-imaging

One of our vascular sonographers, evaluating the great saphenous vein in the thigh with duplex ultrasound.

At La Jolla Vein Care, the venous duplex study will be performed by one of our registered vascular technologists, who have specialized training in the science of vascular sonography (RVT). It is performed in the standing position, which is important in obtaining an accurate study result.  This examination takes approximately 45-60 minutes. Following the study, the doctor will personally discuss the results with our patients to ensure a complete understanding of the ultrasound findings.  Insurance typically covers this type of diagnostic study.