A description of the medical terminology used throughout this varicose veins guide.



This is a medical term used to describe the removal of something, e.g. a varicose vein. An example of this is radiofrequency ablation – a treatment for varicose veins.

Anaesthesia The substance administered to ensure that the patient does not experience any pain during a procedure. This can cause either a lack of awareness and a loss of consciousness or a lack of feeling in a part of the body. There are two types of anaesthesia: local and general anaesthesia.

Artery This is a slim tube within the body which helps to transport blood from the heart to other areas of the body.


Blood clot Another name for a small section of solidified blood. The process by which a blood clot is formed is called coagulation.


Capillaries The smallest types of blood vessels. They form part of the network of veins and arteries which assist with blood circulation. Oxygenated blood travels from the heart to all areas of the body: deoxygenated blood (with waste products etc) is transported through the veins and up towards the heart.

Catheter  The name given to a slim tube which is used in various medical procedures. It enables liquids, blood or medication to be passed through it and into the body. This is also used in various treatments for varicose veins to allow instruments such as laser to pass through and into a damaged vein.


As in compression stocking: the act of squeezing or pressing something tightly together.


Doppler ultrasound 

This is a type of ultrasound which uses sound waves to generate images of the veins. This is used as part of the diagnosis procedure.


None at present.


Family history This refers to the structure and relationships within a family unit in respect of illnesses and diseases. For example if someone has a history of varicose veins in their family then this can be passed down through the generations. Doctors will ask patients about their family history when formulating a diagnosis.


The smaller of the two bones in the lower leg: the fibula sits behind the tibia which it is connected to and just below the knee joint.


None at present. 


Hyperpigmentation The name given to a condition in which the skin becomes discoloured or dark patches appear. This can occur over the years from varicose veins.


Inflammation The medical term for the way the body reacts to an illness, disease or injury. This manifests itself as a localised swelling, redness of the affected area and pain.

Itching This is an uncomfortable feeling on the skin which acts as an irritation. It drives the sufferer to scratch the skin.


None at present.


None at present.


Laser This stands for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". It refers to a highly powerful beam of light which emits intense heat at close quarters. Lasers are used in many medical procedures which includes treatment for varicose veins. One example is endovenous laser treatment.


None at present. 


None at present.


Obesity A state in which a person is carrying excess body fat to the extent that it is having an adverse affect on their health.


Phlebitis A medical term for an inflammation of a vein. In some cases a blood clot may form within the vein leading to thrombophlebitis.

Probe A medical instrument which is comprised of a slim flexible rod which is blunt at one end that is used to explore an area inside the body.



This means something which will occur again at some point in the future.


Saphenous veins Two large veins (large and small) which run down the length of the leg and are seen near the surface of the skin. These are also known as superficial veins.

Sclerotherapy A common form of treatment for varicose veins: a chemical is injected into the affected veins to seal and shrink the vein which gradually fades over time.

Stripping A technique used to treat varicose veins. The veins are removed via a special device inserted into the veins. This forms part of a vein ligation and stripping procedure.

Superficial veins This refers to veins which are near to the surface of the skin. Shallow veins as compared to deep veins.


Thrombophlebitis A condition in which a blood clot forms as a result of a swelling in a vein.

Tibia This is the larger of the two bones in the leg. The tibia is also known as the shinbone.


Ulcer A form of tissue erosion. This can be seen on the skin where a section becomes damaged, causing a small crater to form in the skin.

Ultrasound A technique used in many forms of treatment for varicose veins. It uses sound waves and a monitor to capture images of the veins which are then viewed on this monitor. A probe transmits sound waves into the body which then bounce off this as a series of echoes which are translated into images. It enables doctors to have a closer look inside the body. It is often used as a guide during treatments such as radiofrequency ablation.



A muscular internal canal which forms part of the female reproductive system. It performs several functions which include enabling the delivery of the baby during childbirth; a pathway for menstrual blood to exit the body and a source of pleasure during sexual intercourse.

Varicose veins

A condition in which the veins (and valves) become damaged due to excess pressure which causes blood to pool in the lower extremities. This pressure distorts the veins which then become dilated and twisted and bulge against the skin. 

A varicose vein has a blue or purple appearance and often looks unsightly.

Vascular This refers to the veins and anything connected with them.

Veins A network of blood vessels throughout the body which enable blood to flow to the heart. These are an important part of the circulation system.

Vulva The external organs of the female body. They act as a gateway to the vagina and the rest of the female reproductive system.


None at present.


None at present.


None at present.


None at present.

Guide to Varicose Veins

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