The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among pressures obtained simultaneously in the popliteal, long saphenous, and dorsal foot veins.
Eight limbs were studied. One limb had an isolated popliteal vein reflux, and two had moderate long saphenous vein incompetence. No perforator or short saphenous vein insufficiency was detected. Pressures and recovery times of the popliteal/tibial and long saphenous veins were obtained with cannulation at the ankle level and insertion of catheters with a pressure transducer tip. The dorsal foot vein pressure was measured with the insertion of a scalp needle (14-gauge) connected to an external transducer. During 10 toe stands, recordings were simultaneously made in the three veins at the level of the knee joint, in the middle third of the calf, and 5 to 7 cm above the ankle with all the transducers at the same level (ie, same reference point).
In one limb the popliteal/tibial pressure increased at all calf levels, whereas pressures decreased in both saphenous and dorsal foot veins. The pressures decreased in all three systems in the remaining seven limbs. There was no statistical difference between the pressure drop in the long saphenous vein and the deep vein. However, the decrease of the dorsal foot venous pressure was significantly more marked compared with the other two veins at all levels. The recovery time was significantly increased in the long saphenous vein compared with the deep vein; recovery time was further prolonged in the dorsal foot vein.
The dorsal foot, long saphenous, and popliteal/posterior tibial veins clearly exhibit different pressure waveforms in response to calf exercise. The postexercise pressure, the percentage pressure drop, and the recovery times are widely different, which indicates that the three veins behave hydraulically as separate compartments in limbs without significant venous insufficiency.