Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVES: Arteriovenous (AV) shunting has been postulated as the underlying cause of varicose veins. The aim of this study was to analyse pressure and oxygen content in primary varicose veins in order to determine evidence of arterial shunting. METHODS: Thirty-nine patients with varicose veins underwent cannulation of varicosities. The pressure and the blood oxygen content within varicosities were measured in different positions and during exercise. Similar measurements were made in the long saphenous veins of 10 control subjects without venous disease. RESULTS: Mean pressure in varicose veins in the supine position was 12.3 mmHg (Standard deviation [SD] 3.6 mmHg). Control subjects had similar pressures measured in the long saphenous vein. No pulsatile pressure tracings were obtained. Varicosity pressures in the erect position averaged 66 mmHg (SD 9 mmHg). In all cases, the pressure correlated with the distance of the varicosity from the heart. Pressure reduction in varicosities after exercise was significantly less than that in control subjects. Recovery time (RT 90) was also significantly shorter than in the control group. Mean venous pO2 in varicosities was 4.5 kPa (SD 1.0) in the supine position dropping to 3.9 kPa (SD 0.9) on standing; these values were not significantly different to samples from control subjects. CONCLUSIONS: AV shunting is unlikely to be a causative factor in the development of primary varicose veins.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





137 - 141


Adult, Arteriovenous Fistula, Blood Pressure, Exercise, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Oxygen, Regional Blood Flow, Saphenous Vein, Varicose Veins