Diagnosis & Investigations


If varicose veins are causing concern or troublesome symptoms, then assessment by a vascular specialist is recommended. A careful medical history and direct examination of the legs is necessary. Two types of ultrasound machine are commonly used to more accurately define the cause of your varicose veins:

Hand held Doppler

duplex scanning

This is a small, portable machine, which can assess the direction of flow in the main surface veins, to diagnose the site of valve failure causing the varicose veins to develop. It gives guidance in planning treatment but for the newer, minimally invasive treatments more detailed imaging with duplex ultrasound is usually necessary.

Duplex ultrasound

image of saphenous vein

This is a larger, more complex machine, which combines the ability to assess direction and speed of blood flow, with a direct ultrasound picture of the enlarged veins, to more clearly map the distribution and connections of veins and hence plan the best treatment.

The use of duplex ultrasound in both assessing the cause of varicose veins and guiding ultrasound treatment has allowed the great advances in vein treatment over the last 10 years. Neither machine involves x-rays or needles, but uses a simple probe moved over the skin surface.