Little research has been devoted to telangiectasia. The purpose of this study was to analyse the data in the Edinburgh Vein Study to determine the prevalence of telangiectasia in the general population, to analyse the demographic characteristics and association with symptoms and to compare the findings to those relating to varices of the saphenous systems.
Cross-sectional population study.
Twelve general practices with catchment areas geographically and socioeconomically distributed throughout Edinburgh.
An age stratified random sample of 1566 people (699 men and 867 women) aged 16-64 selected from computerised age-sex registers of participating practices.
Included in the population screening was a clinical examination, photography and duplex ultrasonography of the superficial veins and the deep veins down to popliteal level. Telangiectases and varicose veins were graded 1-3 according to severity.
A total of 1322 (84%) of the population were classified as having telangiectasias in their right legs; 555 (79%) of men and 767 (88%) of women; 1226 (92%) as grade 1 and 96 (8%) as grades 2 and 3. There were no significant differences between left and right legs (p=0.144). The commonest locations for telangiectases were the postero-medial aspects of the thigh, popliteal fossa and upper one third of calf. There was a highly significant association between the degree of severity of varicose veins and the grade of telangiectasia (p<0.001). Less than 1% of subjects with grades 2-3 trunk varices were free of telangiectasia, but 51% of subjects with grades 2-3 telangiectasia had no clinical evidence of varicose veins. There was a significant linear trend in the proportion of subjects reporting heaviness, swelling, aching and cramps being highest among those with neither telangiectasia nor varicose veins, lower in those with telangiectasia or varicose veins only and lowest in subjects having both. The highest frequency of most symptoms was found in subjects with both telangiectasia and varicose veins.
Telangiectasia is so common in the general population, especially in women, as to represent the norm. The anatomical distribution is entirely different from the distribution of the skin and subcutaneous manifestations of chronic venous insufficiency. Our confirmation of a strong association between trunk varices and grades 2-3 telangiectasia suggests the need for controlled studies into which condition should be treated. We found no evidence that telangiectasia per se was entirely responsible for leg symptoms.