The great saphe­nous vein: ves­sels, by­passes, bulging

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Dr Adam Taor Il­lus­tra­tion:Nathalie Gar­cia

What is it? The long­est ves­sel in our body— it’s a vein that runs close to the skin, up our leg. It starts in the foot and runs in front of the knob of bone on the inside of the an­kle, where it can of­ten be seen and felt, then it trav­els up the inside of the leg. How did it get its name? It’s named af­ter a Greek word, saphenes , mean­ing ‘‘ ob­vi­ously vis­i­ble’’. It is ‘‘ great’’ be­cause there is also a lesser saphe­nous vein, which it joins. What use is it? Apart from car­ry­ing blood up the leg back to­wards the heart, this vein is some­times used in coro­nary artery by­pass op­er­a­tions. Sur­geons re­move part of it to use as a re­place­ment for a blocked coro­nary artery. What can go wrong with it? Peo­ple with bulging vari­cose veins of­ten have the prob­lem in the great saphe­nous vein.

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