What is the Function of the Great Saphenous Vein?

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What is the Function of the Great Saphenous Vein - sonogram of vein in leg

Great saphenous, iliac, femoral, posterior tibbial, renal – all vital parts of the body. But how much do you really know about your body’s circulatory system? Interested in learning more about the great saphenous vein’s function and the crucial role it plays in your circulatory system? Take a closer look at this part of the body and how it works.

Your body’s circulatory system includes your heart, and your blood vessels. Blood vessels are divided into three types:

  • Arteries: Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your body’s organs and tissues.
  • Veins: Veins carry oxygen-depleted blood and waste products back to your heart, using one-way valves to help keep blood flowing toward the heart.
  • Capillaries: Capillaries are the smallest blood vessels; they connect small arteries and small veins.

Major veins and arteries have names, including the aorta, common carotid artery, external carotid artery, femoral artery, great saphenous vein, and the small saphenous vein. Each has a different function.

What is the Saphenous Vein?

The purpose of this vein is to carry blood from your feet and legs up to the deep vein system of your body. The vein runs just under the skin along the inside of your leg from inside of your foot, connecting to the deep vein system near the groin.

great saphenous vein in your circulatory system - diagram

The great saphenous vein is the most likely vein to be treated for venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency, also known as vein disease, is not a life-threatening condition. However, it can cause health complications if left untreated.

Vein disease often leads to varicose veins and spider veins due to the collection of blood in the veins of the lower legs and ankles.

Symptoms of vein disease include a feeling of heaviness in the legs, pain, discomfort, legs being itchy, and skin changes and discoloration. People with vein disease often experience varicose veins and purple veins on the legs.

These swollen, discolored veins often make it very difficult to do daily activities.

The small saphenous vein runs under the skin from the outside of the foot to the back of the calf, ending at the knee. It is the second most likely vein to be treated for symptoms related to venous insufficiency.

Poor Circulation Symptoms

Conditions Associated With the Great Saphenous Vein

Venous insufficiency — which impacts veins including the great saphenous vein — is fairly common, affecting about one in five adults. Risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Being overweight or obese
  • A family history of varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis (DVT): If either condition runs in your family, you’re also more likely to develop it yourself.
  • Being female, being pregnant or having a baby

In addition to venous insufficiency, you can get a blood clot in the great saphenous vein. This condition, called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), could cause symptoms such as:

  • Pain or discomfort
  • Swelling in one or both of the legs
  • Reddened skin
  • Warmth or tenderness around the affected area

Finally, the great saphenous vein has a unique purpose as it can be used in cardiac surgery. If you need coronary bypass surgery, your surgeon may remove this vein from one of your legs and suture it into the heart to bypass any blockages.

Have More Questions About Vein Health?

Whether you have general questions about vein health or want to know more about the non-surgical treatment options for vein problems, we are here for you. At USA Vein Clinics, our team of experienced professionals will help diagnose the source of any vein issues and develop a treatment plan specifically for you.

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