The Vascular System

The circulatory system manages and controls the bloodflow around the body. The main parts of this system are the heart, arteries, capillaries and veins.

Healthy arteries and veins act as ‘one-way streets’, allowing blood to flow in one direction only. The beating heart directs blood through arteries to the entire body. Blood is pumped from the heart full of oxygen. This is important for the cells in the brain and the body to do their work. The oxygen rich blood travels through the arteries to all the tissues.Blood is then returned to the heart through the veins. The contraction of the leg muscles acts like a pump to move blood up the veins, against the force of gravity. The one-way valves in the leg veins prevent the backflow of blood down towards the feet.

The Venous System

Venous system is comprised of a deep and a superficial system interconnected via 'perforators'.

Deep veins are located well below the skin, often within the muscles, and are crucial in maintaining a healthy circulation. Superficial veins are located near the skin surface, and drain into the deep veins through junctions. Superficial veins are also connected to deep veins through multiple small connections called ‘perforating veins’. Valves inside the perforating veins and junctions prevent the flow of blood back into the superficial veins. Blood thus naturally flows from the superficial veins into the perforating veins and junctions, which connect to the deep veins and then back to the heart.

Saphenous veins are the main superficial veins in the legs. Saphenous veins collect blood from other surface veins and drain it into the deep veins. The longest, the Great Saphenous Vein, is located in the inner aspect of the leg and travels from the ankle to the groin. The Small Saphenous Vein is located at the back of the calf muscle and travels from the outer ankle to the back of the knee. The Great Saphenous Vein is the vein that is most commonly ‘stripped’ in varicose vein operation.

For more information on the Venous System, use these links:

Overview of Varicose Veins

Testing for Varicose Veins

Treatment of Varicose Veins