Varicose veins: Look before you strip – the occluded inferior vena cava and other lurking pathologies

Taole Mokoena


Lower limb varicose veins are a common complication of bipedal human movement and deep-vein thrombosis. However, they may have unusual causes, e.g. forming as collaterals around an obstruction or resulting from vascular malformations. Surgery in these cases can be inappropriate or harmful. Five cases of lower limb varicose veins in which there was underlying pathology highlight the fact that cursory examination of patients with varicose veins and inappropriate special investigations can miss rare but significant underlying pathology. Patients should be examined systematically, and varicose veins in unusual situations should alert the clinician. Inappropriate surgery can be harmful.

Author's affiliations

Taole Mokoena, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Pretoria Academic Hospital Complex

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Varicose veins

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(10):668-670. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8395

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-05-02
Date published: 2014-05-15

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