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Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

What is Pelvic congestion syndrome?

Pelvic congestion syndrome (also known as pelvic vein incompetence) is a chronic medical condition in women caused by varicose veins in the lower abdomen. The condition causes chronic pain, often manifesting as a constant dull ache, which can be aggravated by standing.

What are the symptoms of Pelvic congestion syndrome?

  • Pelvic pain or aching around the Pelvis and lower abdomen
  • Pain with sex
  • Varicose veins in vagina
  • Dragging sensation or pain in the Pelvis
  • Feeling of fullness in the legs
  • Worsening of stress incontinence
  • Worsening in the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome

What are the causes of Pelvic congestion syndrome?

Pain occurs because blood accumulates in veins of the Pelvis, which have dilated and become convoluted (called varicose veins). The resulting pain is sometimes debilitating.

Pelvic congestion syndrome occurs when varicose veins develop around the ovaries, similar to varicose veins that occur in the legs. Then:

  1. The valves in the veins no longer function normally.
  2. This causes blood to back up.
  3. The veins become engorged or “congested,” which can be very painful.

How does Pelvic congestion syndrome treatment work?

Minimally invasive treatments:

Pelvic venography is often performed as a diagnostic procedure but also may be performed in conjunction with treatment in the form of pelvic embolization.

Ovarian vein embolization: In this procedure, Dr. Pensler places a catheter (tube) directly into the abnormal ovarian vein, as described above. She injects sclerosing agents into the pelvic varicose veins to occlude (seal) them.

Small metal coils or plugs are subsequently placed to block blood flow into the ovarian vein. This prevents the reversal of blood flow in the abnormal vein, which reduces the pressure within the enlarged pelvic veins.

If reversed blood flow is present within the other ovarian vein or within other pelvic veins, these vessels can be embolized, as well, in a similar fashion.