The causes of chronic pelvic pain are varied, but are often associated with the presence of ovarian and pelvic varicose veins. Pelvic congestion syndrome is similar to varicose veins in the legs. In both cases, the valves in the veins that help return blood to the heart
against gravity become weakened and don’t close properly, this allows blood to flow backwards and pool in the vein causing pressure and bulging veins. In the pelvis, varicose veins can cause pain and affect the uterus, ovaries and vulva. Up to 15 percent of women, generally between the ages of 20 and 50, have varicose veins in the pelvis, although not all experience symptoms. The diagnosis is often missed because women lie down for a pelvic exam, relieving pressure on the ovarian veins, so that the veins no longer bulge with blood as they do while a woman is standing. Many women with pelvic congestion syndrome, spend many years trying to get an answer to why they have this chronic pelvic pain.
Once a diagnosis is made, if the patient is symptomatic, an embolization should be done. Sometimes if there is a high suspicion for pelvic varices, a venogram may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis. Embolization is a minimally invasive procedure where thin catheter, about the size of a strand of spaghetti, is inserted into the femoral vein in the groin. The catheter is guided to the affected vein using X-ray guidance. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, a combination of a sclerosing agent and coils are deployed to close the abnormal veins.
Through this procedure, pelvic pain and congestion can be dramatically reduced thereby improving women’s symptoms. This treatment can be performed in under two hours and on an outpatient basis without the need for long hospitalizations. Patients can return to normal activities almost immediately. Previously, women needed to have the uterus removed to treat pelvic pain caused by PCS, and with no guaranteed relief from their symptoms.
In addition to being less expensive to surgery and much less invasive, embolization offers a safe, effective, minimally invasive treatment option that restores patients to normal. The procedure is successfully performed in 95-100 percent of cases. Between 85-95 percent of women are improved after the procedure.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Important points to consider:
- Pelvic Congestion Syndrome can be treated on an outpatient basis with no open surgery. This can provide women with a more cosmetic outcome (only a small 2mm puncture is required in the neck and/or groin area)
- Many patients will be able to return to normal activities much sooner and with less pain (when compared to traditional open surgical treatments)
- Women frequently suffer from symptoms for years before the diagnosis is made and treatment is offered.
- Precision’s Board Certified Vascular Specialists are recognized regional experts in the treatment and diagnosis of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome.