A-Z Vein Glossary

Home 9 A-Z Vein Glossary
From various sources
Ambulatory Phlebectomy
A minimally invasive option to remove varicose veins. It involves a few small incisions to remove veins in the doctor’s clinic.

Vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs (veins carry blood from the leg back to the heart).

Axial Vein

The main vein that feeds varicose veins which can include great saphenous vein, small saphenous vein, or the anterior accessory saphenous vein.


Art of Vein Care is a chain of vein centres in Australia providing comprehensive treatment for spider veins, varicose veins and other vein conditions. Click here for our locations.

Bleeding Veins

Bleeding veins can be profuse after a seemingly minor bump on furniture, being knocked in bed by a sleeping partner or a weakened vein that ruptures in the shower. Seek immediate medical attention for any bleeding vein, which is considered a medical emergency.

Blood Clot
Also known as a superficial or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), this is a condition where a blood clot develops in the superficial or deep veins of the leg.
There is a possibility that part of a deep vein thrombosis can break off and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism which can be life threatening.
DVT symptoms include pain or tenderness, especially in the calf, as well as lower limb swelling with or without redness. It can also be symptomless PE can cause chest pain especially when taking breath, coughing blood and breathlessness.


A side effect of common vein treatments that tends to abate after a week or two.

A very small blood vessel that feeds the vessels between the arteries and veins.

This is a long, thin tube used during vein procedures, to allow doctors to move within the vein and close it by delivering heat (radiofrequency or laser) or glue.

CEAP Classification

A score of vein disease from 0 (no disease that can be seen or felt in the legs) to 6 (active and open venous leg ulcer).

Chronic Vein Insufficiency

When leg veins do not allow proper blood flow to the heart.

CEAP Classification

A score of vein disease from 0 (no disease that can be seen or felt in the legs) to 6 (active and open venous leg ulcer).

Chronic Vein Insufficiency

When leg veins are not functioning properly and start to cause significant problems such as aching etc or skin issues.


A small circumferential wire brush, like a dental brush or pipe cleaner that is used to scratch the vein wall back and forth. Then, foam or liquid sclerosant can be deployed, if necessary, to complete the ablation.


Coagulated blood

Compression Therapy
A non-surgical therapy is crucial in the recovery after most vein treatments, but also used to treat vein problems without intervention. It is also used for the treatment of DVT and SVT. Compresison can also be used to decrease the chances of developing DVTs following surgery and other causes including long haul flights.
This therapy involves compression stockings with varying degrees of pressure to improve blood flow and reduce symptoms caused by venous insufficiency.
Compression stockings should be worn continuously where possible for 7 days after treatment for optimal results.
This medical hosiery gives a specific amount of support at the ankles (measured in millimetres of mercury or mmHg) to help relieve the symptoms of venous reflux as well.

Deep Vein System

This is one of the body’s two vein systems.
The deep system runs through the muscles of the thigh and calf and carries virtually all of the blood out of the leg back to the heart. It never becomes varicosed.

Superficial Vein System

The superficial system lies between the muscles and the skin and carries less than 2% of the blood out of the leg and back to the heart.
These veins can be removed or blocked off without any compromise to blood flow from the legs.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

A thrombus or a blood clot, within a deep vein.
It can also be caused due to genetic reasons or other factors such as travel.
Flights longer than 4 hours are considered “long haul” and the rate of DVT for flights greater than 4 hours is 1 in 5500.
However, in 5 prospective studies on longer flights there is a much higher incidence of DVT and pulmonary embolism, where a blood clot travels to the lungs and can be life-threatening.
These studies found that there was an incidence of 1 in 200 VTEs when travel time went past 8 hours. DVT is also an uncommon complication in RF treatments (1 in 500) and very uncommon for sclerotherapy (1 in 2000).
When DVT occurs after treatment, the clot occurs in the deep venous system, not in the treated varicose vein.
To avoid DVT after treatment, it’s important to wear compression stockings exactly as directed and that regular daily walking is maintained.

Doppler scan
A standard ultrasound can produce images of veins and arteries but can’t show the speed or blood flow like a Doppler can.

Duplex Scan

The Duplex imaging system we use at AVC is an advanced form of ultrasound because it combines Doppler high-frequency sound wave technology with B-Mode ultrasound imaging to provide a comprehensive analysis of the condition – especially useful for detecting and monitoring blood clots. It uses colour to indicate the direction of blood flow.
This is particularly helpful when looking at and evaluating both the deep and superficial venous systems.
A duplex scan is essential in detecting flow in the wrong direction (rReflux). It is used to “map” the veins in the leg.


Adjective meaning “inside a vein”. May relate to Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) or Endovenous Radiofrequency Ablation.


Refers to the inside of blood vessels


Endovenous Laser Therapy (or sometimes called EVL). This refers to the use of a laser to close a varicose vein or veins that are refluxing.

Foam sclerotherapy

The use of a chemical foam injected into varicose veins that causes them to close up.
This procedure is performed under guided ultrasound.
After foam is injected, it removes the lining of the vein, causing it to react by healing and withering. It disperses back into a liquid after a few minutes.

Glue Ablation

A technique where glue is used in conjunction with sclerotherapy to close veins.
This glue is used for varicose veins fed by a large, relatively straight superficial vein.
The glue is used on the feeding vein.
The varicose veins are then closed by injections done in the same procedure.

Great Saphenous Vein

A large superficial leg vein – the longest vein in the body returning blood from the foot, leg and thigh to the deep femoral vein near the groin. But it is a superficial vein and therefore returns very little blood so is not important. It is the most common vein that feeds varicose veins.


A collection of blood under the skin.


More redness or colour to the skin. Can also be brown, black, grey or pink spots or patches.

Incompetent Veins

Vein that allows blood to flow the wrong way under the effect of gravity.
Blood flows in the wrong direction (i.e., from the upper leg to the feet).
Incompetence is caused by unhealthy valves in the veins, often referred to as incompetent valves.
Many people over the age of 50 will have some degree of incompetent leg veins.

Iron Supplements

At AVC, we generally advise patients to stop taking these supplements two weeks before treatment.
Blood thinners do not need to be stopped and we do not generally feel it is warranted to stop the oral contraceptive pill or HRT unless there are high risk factors – so please discuss with your AVC doctor.

Intermittent Pneumatic Compression

Devices fitted with cuffs that fill the legs with air and squeeze the legs to increase blood flow.
Used to prevent blood clots and for conditions such as lipoedema.

Jugular Vein

A venous structure that collects blood from the brain, face, neck and delivers it to the right atrium.

Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome

A rare vein condition that impacts blood vessels, skin, muscles and bones. Three hallmark features include a port-wine stain, vein malformations and abnormal overgrowth of soft tissues.

KTP laser

A treatment commonly used in vein therapy for the management of facial spider veins.


Surgical closure of a vessel with sutures or staples.


Inflammation of the fat under the skin that causes pain, skin hardening, redness swelling and tapering of legs above the ankles.


Lipoedema (or lipedema) is a painful fat disorder that causes accumulated fat in the subcutaneous tissue of the skin and a cellulite appearance.
It disproportionately affects the lower limbs and sometimes the upper arms.
It is a chronically progressive disease almost exclusive to women and it tends to run in families.
It is often accompanied by easy bruising, double-jointed and sometimes causes severe pain and mobility issues.
Lipoedema currently impacts 11% of all women; many have no idea they have it.
Unlike normal fat, lipoedema fat does not respond to diet.


Swelling caused by removal or blockage of the lymphatics which should be draining fluid from that structure, usually the arm or leg. It often occurs as a side effect of cancer treatment when lymph nodes have been removed or damaged causing lymph fluid to build up in tissue under the skin.


Interior channel of a blood vessel


This is a side effect from common vein treatments that has a 1 in 20 incidence and causes an extremely fine network of spider veins on the outer and inner thigh.
It usually resolves spontaneously or less commonly requires further treatment.

The removal of varicose veins through a tiny cut or puncture in the skin.

This is the growth of venous channels through scar tissue after varicose vein surgery, generally in the groin. Neovascularization is not stimulated by endovenous treatments such as sclerotherapy or thermal ablation techniques.


Swelling that is caused by fluid retention and frequently occurs in the ankles and legs of people who have varicose veins.


This is a side effect of common vein treatments with an incidence of about 3 in 100 vein treatments.
It causes tender, red, swollen areas along the line of treated veins, due to trapped blood.
It is generally treated with anti-inflammatory medication and improves with walking and compression.
Most superficial phlebitis resolves.

NICE Guidelines

Evidence based recommendations for vein care.


The closing of a vessel.


Swelling caused by fluid retention


Numbness or tingling is often associated with damage to sensory nerves.

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

A vein condition of the pelvis.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Narrowing or blockage of arteries that carry blood from the heart to the legs.

Perforator veins

These are the veins connecting the deep and superficial veins.
The deep veins lie within the muscles and superficial veins lie under the skin, within the subcutaneous fat.
The muscles are enveloped by a tough fibrous layer called fascia.
The perforator veins pass through or “perforate” the fascia.

A vein disease expert

The science of vein function and the treatment of vein conditions


The incidence of pigmentation is about 1 in 10 and this causes brown marks on or near treated vein areas.
It’s common when treating spider veins but generally disappears within 3 to 12 months, while rare persistent cases can be treated with topical laser.

Popliteal  Vein

A vein of the lower limb behind the knee.

Pulmonary Embolism

Occurs when a blood clot gets stuck in an artery in the lung, blocking blood flow to part of the lung.

Quality of Life

A patient-reported questionnaire that evaluates the details of chronic venous disease severity. It is an important outcome measure after vein treatments.

Radiofrequency Ablation

A thermal ablation technique that replaces the older style surgical “stripping’, this minimally invasive technique closes the great or small saphenous vein using thermal energy delivered via a fine catheter.


Abnormal backflow or pooling of blood in the veins of the legs caused by unhealthy valves.

Reticular Veins

Slightly larger than spider veins, further under the skin. These are the veins that feed spider veins.

Restless Legs

A distressing condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs when sitting or lying down. Often linked to underlying vein disease and can impact sleep.

Saphenous Vein (Great Saphenous Vein; Small Saphenous Vein)
The Great Saphenous Vein (GSV) is a large vein running from the ankle to the groin.
The Small Saphenous Vein (SSV) runs up the back of the leg from the ankle to the knee.
They are superficial veins and carry small amounts of blood to the deep veins.
Treating or blocking off these veins will not impact circulation as the body has two vein systems – the deep vein system and the superficial vein system.
This superficial system only carries about 2% of the blood from the leg to the heart.


The injection of unhealthy veins with a chemical medication.
Sclerotherapy can be used for early varicose veins and spider veins (telangiectasia) as well as recurrent varicose veins.
The lining of the vein is painlessly removed and the vein closes, withers and shrinks.
Ultrasound guides the procedure for accuracy.

Spider veins

Also known as (telangiectasia) or “thread veins”.
These are small 1-2 mm veins in the skin that are often purple or blue, and are considered mostly cosmetic and an unsightly nuisance.

Old style varicose vein operation that involved major hospital and surgery where the great or small saphenous vein is removed by pulling it out from under the skin. Involved a slow recovery time, was painful and may cause re-growth of the vein. Stripping is generally no longer performed.

Superficial veins

Veins that lie just beneath the skin.
As they are not supported in the same way as the deep veins, their walls can weaken and more likely to varicose than deep veins.


Spider Veins


Removal of blood clot under image guidance

Thread veins
Very fine blood vessels near the surface of the skin, which appear as twisted, tiny purple lines.

Formation or presence of a thrombus, or clot, within a blood vessel.

Blood clot that may block a blood vessel.

Ulcer (venous)
A serious and chronic complication of varicose veins where a lesion on the skin is caused by tissue loss (in the presence of or caused by varicose veins).

These are folds in the lining of the leg veins, that open and close to prevent blood from flowing backwards. These valves are “one way” so when you stand up, the valves should prevent the blood from flowing back down into the leg. The calf muscle acts as a pump for the deep system, while the return of blood to the superficial system is passive; there is no pump for these.

Varicose veins
Veins with incompetent valves that are enlarged, tortuous and thickened.

An estimated 30%-40% of the general population has varicose veins.

Blood vessels that take blood back to the heart

Venous insufficiency

This means poor flow of blood from in the veins from the legs and feet to the heart.
Its signs and symptoms include varicose veins, spider veins, aching, swelling, varicose eczema or venous leg ulcers.
It is caused by enlargement of the veins or damaged valves, resulting in pooling of blood.
Deep vein thrombosis can also create this condition.
Over time, the condition can damage other vein valves and exacerbate the progression of venous reflux.

Venous Leg Ulcer (VLU)
A break in the skin caused by abnormal flow in the leg veins.

Walking Therapy

Whilst intense physical therapy should be avoided for the first 4 days after RF, sclerotherapy or other vein treatments, walking every day is important with a compression stocking to reduce the risk of DVT, to get the legs moving and to maximise the outcome.


Oral anticoagulants are used to treat and prevent blood clots. Warfarin is rarely used these days, being superceded by a family of drugs called NOACs.

Wells Score

A clinical scoring system that grades the level of patient risk for developing a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.

-2 to 0 is a low probability while 2 to 8 is a high probability.