Venous Reflux Exams

The venous reflux exam is the most common way for your doctor to assess whether the blood flow in your legs is the cause of your symptoms. This test examines how your blood moves through the arteries and veins of your legs and can help determine the root of excessive varicose veins, shortness of breath, skin discoloration, and leg pain or swelling. This test can also find possible blood clots in your legs and lungs.

What You Should Know Before You Go In

A non-invasive, painless procedure, the venous reflux exam should be performed while you are standing. It should take 1 1/2 to 2 hours to complete, and there is nothing you need to do to prepare in advance. You don’t need to worry about dietary restrictions beforehand, and you may want to wear something comfortable so that it’s easy to stay still during your venous insufficiency exam.

What Your Exam Will Cover

An ultrasound exam emits sound waves into your body and a connected computer uses those reflected sounds to create a picture of your veins. A venous reflux exam focuses on your legs, so the ultrasound probe will be moved over each vein in your leg to show which direction your blood is flowing. When your vein valves are healthy, your blood will move towards your heart. When your valves are not functioning properly, blood will reflux (move backwards) toward your feet. You should be standing during a venous reflux exam because in the standing position healthy vein valves in your legs will close. Other positions during a test might indicate leaking valves in your legs, but not all positions activate the veins in the appropriate way. This discrepancy in testing can lead to potential inaccurate results, which can lead to over-diagnosis or unnecessary additional procedures.

Another important factor in your exam is the thorough evaluation of both superficial and deep veins. This exam should provide a full picture that shows which of your veins are functioning normally as well as any abnormalities. Some facilities will not expend the effort required for a full examination and focus their exam exclusively on assessment of deep vein thrombosis (also known as clotting). These facilities often limit their exams to about 30 minutes. A complete venous reflux exam should take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to complete. The details in a full exam will give your doctor the ability to make plans for the optimal treatment of your symptoms.

After You’ve Finished Your Venous Reflux Exam

Your completed venous insufficiency exam results will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will walk through your results with you and can also explain how your results may connect to the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. You can then work together to determine the best next steps for your health and wellness.