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Int J Angiol. 2013 Mar;22(1):23-30. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1334092.

Calf pump activity influencing venous hemodynamics in the lower extremity.

Author information

1
(Retired from) Division of Vascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, Faculty Hospital, Charles University, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic.

Abstract

Calf muscle pump is the motive force enhancing return of venous blood from the lower extremity to the heart. It causes displacement of venous blood in both vertical and horizontal directions, generates ambulatory pressure gradient between thigh and lower leg veins, and bidirectional streaming within calf perforators. Ambulatory pressure gradient triggers venous reflux in incompetent veins, which induces ambulatory venous hypertension in the lower leg and foot. Bidirectional flow in calf perforators enables quick pressure equalization between deep and superficial veins of the lower leg; the outward (into the superficial veins) oriented component of the bidirectional flow taking place during calf muscle contraction is no pathological reflux but a physiological centripetal flow streaming via great saphenous vein into the femoral vein. Calf perforators are communicating channels between both systems making them conjoined vessels; they are not involved in the generation of pathological hemodynamic situations, nor do they cause ambulatory venous hypertension. The real cause why recurrences develop has not as yet been cleared. Pressure gradient arising during calf pump activity between the femoral vein and the saphenous remnant after abolition of saphenous reflux triggers biophysical and biochemical events, which might induce recurrence. Thus, abolition of saphenous reflux removes the hemodynamic disturbance, but at the same time it generates precondition for reflux recurrence and for the comeback of the previous pathological situation; this chain of events has been called hemodynamic paradox.

KEYWORDS:

calf perforators; hemodynamic paradox; venous hemodynamics; venous hypertension

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