Hemodynamic assessment of venous problems

William H. Pearce, Jean Baptiste Ricco, Luis A. Queral, William R. Flinn, James S T Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Objective assessment of venous function based on venous refilling time recorded by photoplethysmography (PPG) was done in 89 patients with postphlebitic syndrome (47), primary varicose veins (29), and after an episode of acute deep vein thrombosis (13). Limbs with symptomatic postphlebitic changes had a shortened venous refilling time of 15.6 ± 11 seconds (normal > 20 seconds). When venographic findings (ascending and descending) in 47 patients with postphlebitic syndrome were analyzed, it was noted that femoral valve incompetence demonstrated by descending venography was a common finding (81%), even in asymptomatic limbs (85%). Venous refilling time bore no relationship to the degree of femoral venous valve reflux. However, if there were associated diseased deep veins with incompetent perforating veins, the venous refilling time was much shorter (14 ± 4 seconds) than in limbs without calf perforating veins (27 ± 11.9 seconds, P < 0.05). A tourniquet was used to impede saphenous flow, and changes in refilling time were recorded in 34 limbs with varicosities of the long saphenous vein. Refilling time normalized after tourniquet application in 31 limbs (14.43 ± 4.34 to 30.64 ± 11.9 seconds), and all patients underwent vein stripping. Postoperative recording confirmed the improvement in venous refilling time (29.52 ± 27.8 seconds, P < 0.05). Thirteen patients with acute deep vein thrombosis had serial PPG tests during a follow-up period of 27 months (mean 15.8 months). Seven had initial abnormal PPG results and persistently abnormal readings, and all developed postphlebitic changes. Venous refilling time is an useful test to determine the hemodynamic significance of femoral venous valve incompetence and to assess the effect of vein stripping on varicose veins. In acute deep vein thrombosis, follow-up study may help to identify patients at risk for development of postphlebitic changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-721
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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