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What is a venous reflux test and how does it work?

This question was asked in Cedarville, Ohio and has 15 answer(s) as of 06/05/2013.
Went to my doctor and told him my legs feel heavy and swollen all the time. I have some varicose veins on my legs and he said I need to get a venous reflux test. What is that? How does the venous reflux test work?


Doctors Answers (15)

To determine both the anatomy and function of the veins in the legs, the duplex ultrasound is the gold standard. The ultrasound can visualize both the size and structure of the veins and measure the flow and direction of the venous blood. An evaluation of venous reflux (blood flow in the wrong direction away from the heart) is helpful to determine the cause and extent of the vein problem beyond the visibly obvious varicose veins on the surface of the skin. The ultrasound is quick, precise and painless in testing for venous reflux which involves just a gentle squeeze of the vein below the vein segment being tested. Squeezing produces blood flow in the vein up toward the heart and past the ultrasound transducer. Then releasing the vein allows the blood to potentially back-flow or reflux if the vein valves are not working properly and is measured by the ultrasound test. Reflux means there is difficulty in blood returning to the heart so it accumulates in the legs due to gravity, and produces enlarged veins and poor venous circulation.

Reflux, or backward (downward) flow in a vein may be detected using a handheld Doppler device, but more accurate venous mapping requires duplex ultrasound. These are both painless, quick, easy tests that take only minutes to perform.

Venous reflux is diagnosed with an ultrasound. It is done in my office and is covered by most insurances. If you have pain and swelling in your legs, insurance usually pays for the treatment of your veins as well. Let us know if we can be of any help to you.

Venous blood normally flows through the veins toward the heart. Many one-way valves are located in the veins which prevent blood from flowing away from the heart. If the valves fail and allow blood to leak away from the heart toward the feet, we refer to the reversal of venous blood flow as "reflux". A lower extremity venous reflux examination involves studying the veins of the lower extremities with an ultrasound device to evaluate whether there is reflux of blood away from the heart due to gravity or due to maneuvers which might stimulate reflux. It is essential to understand which veins function normally and which do not in order to formulate a plan for treatment of leg swelling, pain, or venous problems such as varicose veins. Unfortunately, many facilities perform ultrasound studies which look only to evaluate for deep vein thrombosis (clotting) and do not spend the time and effort to perform a reflux examination. It is important that studies for leg swelling, pain, or varicose veins be performed by a laboratory which will do the full reflux testing. Sadly, many patients are not diagnosed for their venous insufficiency because they get an ultrasound exam which does not evaluate the venous reflux. A complete bilateral lower extremity venous color duplex ultrasound exam often requires 1 1/2 to 2 hours to perform. A thirty minute exam cannot be an adequate exam.

A venous reflux test is a doppler ultrasound done while the patient is standing. The ultrasound probe is placed on the leg and directed over the vein that needs to be studied. It will show whether the blood is flowing forward towards the heart or backward toward the feet.

Ultrasound Imaging Technology is used to visualize the veins and the blood flow direction. This test is done in the standing position, takes approximately 45 min, is done by a certified Vascular Technologist, and Interpreted by a qualified physician. When the blood circulates in the opposite direction as normal, that qualifies as "venous reflux".

This is a simple test which is done at the vein specialists office. It is an ultrasound test which has to be done in the standing position. The technician places the probe over the vein and quickly squeezes the calf. This will show if the valves in the vein are competent. This MUST be done in the office because if you do have reflux and a laser, or some other procedure is recommended, your insurance carrier will require that the ultrasound picture be sent to them before they approve the procedure. They will also require a full consultation and reading from the vein specialist.

Venous reflux testing mainly involves ultrasound evaluation of your deep vein system and your superficial vein system of your lower legs. The study is generally done in the standing position. A blood pressure cuff is placed around your calf and inflated and deflated quickly. The ultrasound tech monitors the length of time it takes for the valves within the section of the vein undergoing evaluation to close. If the time is greater than 0.5 seconds within the superficial system, your are diagnosed with venous reflux.

The simplest and most effective test is an ultrasound examination by someone experienced in diagnosing vein problems. They will be able to assess your deep veins as well as the "superficial" veins (saphenous long and short). They will be looking for the function of the valves in the veins to see in they are allowing the blood to back flow instead of moving up the legs back to the heart. If you do have saphenous reflux, it will be demonstrated by this test in the standing position.

A venous duplex exam is basically a test using an ultrasound that is done to evaluate the veins in the legs. There are two things that are typically assessed during a venous duplex exam: venous reflux and and venous thrombosis (clot). The venous reflux test is done to determine if the one-way valves in the leg veins are working properly or not. When the valves are functional, blood will only move towards the heart. When the valves wear our and become dysfunctional, this allows blood to reflux (move backwards) down the leg leading to swelling, varicose veins, and heaviness in the leg. This test should be performed in part with the patient laying down and in part with the patient standing.

It is an ultrasound. It first looks at your veins to make sure that you do not have any clots in the veins. Then it looks further at the superficial and deep veins to see if the valves in the veins are working correctly and if there is back flow in the veins. Normally the veins carry blood back to the heart. Sometimes the valves in the veins are not working correctly or the veins get stretched out and instead of the valves acting like one way doors, blood is able to flow not just upwards toward the heart but downwards towards the feet. This causes the legs to feel heavy and tired and achy. If you have symptoms this is a good test to have to diagnose the source of the problem.

It is an ultrasound exam of the leg veins which can document blood flow reversal if positive. This reversal or reflux causes the symptoms you mentioned. If your reflux exam comes back positive, treatment is called ablation and is very effective.

The venous reflux test is just an ultrasound examination while you are standing. The ultrasound assess the direction of blood flow while you are in this position. If the blood only flows upward then that is normal. If the blood flows backward after it flows upward for longer than 5 seconds, then this is considered abnormal. There are several veins that are evaluated during this exam. Several of the larger superficial veins known as saphenous veins are evaluated. In addition, the deeper veins are also evaluated for this same condition. The test is noninvasive and is not associated with any discomfort.

Venous reflux test examines the integrity of the valves within the veins in your legs. If the valves work well and there is no reflux, then blood flows toward the heart. If there is reflux then the valves don't close and blood in the vein flows in the wrong direction toward your feet.

Reflux is assessed by measuring the length of time that blood runs backwards through the vein. This is done with the ultrasound machine. It is painless and noninvasive.

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