Horseshoes are not always lucky: A rare cause of varicose veins

Kathryn Busch*, Judith Doyle, Martin Forbes, Geoffrey White, John Harris, Michael Stephen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. - Color duplex ultrasound (CDU) assessment for patients with varicose veins has increased in prevalence as new techniques for treatment continue to emerge. Occasionally, patients present with atypical varicosities that warrant the typical study to be extended to unveil the true underlying cause of the condition. Clinical Details. - A 41 year old man presented to our laboratory for assessment of bilateral varicose veins. He had recently developed venous eczema. Examination of the patient revealed large varicose veins associated with the long saphenous system, especially prominent on the left side. Methods. - Using a standard venous incompetence study protocol, CDU was performed with a Philips IU22 machine. The lower-extremity deep and superficial venous systems were assessed for patency and competency. Measurements of incompetent venous junctions and noteworthy vessel diameters were included. The examination was extended to include the pelvic and abdominal veins on the basis of unusual findings during the CDU imaging of the legs. Results. - Superficial venous insufficiency was detected involving the saphenofemoral junctions (SFJs), long saphenous veins (LSVs), and tributaries bilaterally. Bilateral incompetent calf perforators were identified. On the left, two large SFJs were identified and the LSV measured up to 2.1 cm in diameter. On both sides, an incompetent superficial pelvic vein arising from the SFJ was identified tracking proximally. Examination of the iliac veins revealed normal right iliac veins. On the left, the common iliac vein was extrinsically compressed as was the inferior vena cava. Further examination revealed a horseshoe kidney. The confluence of the lower poles of the kidneys were anterior to the aorta, inferior vena cava, and left common iliac vein, compressing the venous vasculature, accounting for the venous hypertension and left sided prominence. Further management included confirmatory radiological imaging and intervention. Conclusion. - Atypical varicose veins may be a result of a plethora of causes. It is crucial to the patient's outcome to reveal the true nature of the underlying cause. Abdominal sources of venous incompetence need appropriately tailored intervention to prevent recurrence and potential worsening of symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-39
Number of pages4
JournalJournal for Vascular Ultrasound
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


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